The 'medically unexplained symptoms' syndrome concept and the cognitive-behavioural treatment model

Health Psychol. 2022 Jan;27(1):3-8. doi: 10.1177/13591053211038042.Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Michael J Scott 1Joan S Crawford 2Keith J Geraghty 3David F Marks 4


Author information

1Psychological Therapies Unit, UK.

2North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, UK.

3University of Manchester, UK.

4Editor, Journal of Health Psychology, UK.


The American Psychiatric Association's, 2013 DSM-5 abandoned the use of the term 'medically unexplained symptoms' for non-neurological disorders. In the UK, treatments for various medical illnesses with unexplained aetiology, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia, continue to fall under an MUS umbrella with cognitive behavioural therapy promoted as a primary therapeutic approach. In this editorial, we comment on whether the MUS concept is a viable diagnostic term, the credibility of the cognitive-behavioural MUS treatment model, the necessity of practitioner training and the validity of evidence of effectiveness in routine practice.

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