This chapter presents a systematic review of the literature to assess the effectiveness of brief psychological interventions for medically unexplained symptoms (MUS)/somatic symptom disorder, non-cardiac chest pain, and illness anxiety disorder or health anxiety (HA). Google Scholar, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched as data sources. Reference lists were subsequently examined for other relevant articles. Studies were assessed according to specified inclusion criteria and extracted according to PRISMA guidelines. A total of 23 studies were included in the final synthesis. Significant effects for intervention groups relative to control groups were reported in 19 studies, whilst 4 studies did not determine any significant benefits of interventions compared with controls. All of the brief interventions (CBT, psychosocial, psychophysiological, psychosomatic, relaxation and group therapy), with the exception of metaphor therapy, showed significant effects relative to controls in at least one study. The evidence suggests that brief psychological interventions, more specifically time limited CBT based interventions may be effective in treating HA and MUS with psychological distress. Findings are comparable with other reviews. Future research may facilitate the piloting of an intervention, and there remains a need to provide more robust evidence of cost effectiveness.
Part of the book: Psychosomatic Medicine