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Excessive Illness Behavior 

Excessive Illness Behavior
Excessive Illness Behavior

James C. Hamilton

, Krystal A. Hedge

, and Marc D. Feldman

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date: 13 June 2021

Excessive illness behaviors comprise reactions to physical disease or injury that do not promote physical health, and may, in fact, undermine it. These include excessive symptom-reporting, excessive use of healthcare services, and claims of excessive disability. Excessive illness is associated with substantial costs. However, the problem has received little attention compared to the bedrock concerns of psychiatry, such as anxiety and depression. Patients with excessive illness behavior may be encountered first by medical doctors, who may be poorly trained to help them. In this chapter we review the epidemiology and psychopathology of the problem. Using the biopsychosocial model, we review the literature on the management of excessive illness behavior as it informs both the role of the mental health professional as consultant to medical colleagues, and as direct service provider for patients with excessive illness behavior.

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