GP consultations for medically unexplained physical symptoms in parents and their children: a systematic review.

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Journal Title, Volume, Page: 
Br J Gen Pract. 2013 May;63(610):e318-25.
Year of Publication: 
Mujahed Shraim
Christian D Mallen
Kate M Dunn
Preferred Abstract (Original): 


There is evidence of an association of medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS) between parents and children, but it is unclear whether this association is also present for GP consultations.


To review the literature investigating the association of GP consultations for MUPS between parents and children.


Systematic review.


Systematic search of MEDLINE(®), Embase, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases from their inception to October 2012. Observational studies examining the association of GP consultations for MUPS between parents and children were included.


Eight studies were included in the review. Three studies found significant associations between GP consultations for multiple MUPS between parents and children. Two studies reported significant associations between irritable bowel syndrome diagnosis in parents and multiple MUPS in children. One study showed no significant associations between multiple MUPS in mothers and functional abdominal pain in children. Two studies investigated the association of non-specific low back pain in parents and children; one study showed a significant association, whereas the other study found no significant association. Formal pooling of the results was not performed owing to a high degree of study heterogeneity.


This review provides evidence of an association between GP consultations for MUPS in parents and children, although the evidence is limited by some potential biases and study heterogeneity. GPs need to be aware of this association, which has implications for management of children presenting with MUPS. More longitudinal research focusing on all common MUPS in children, which relies on more precise sources of data, is needed to further investigate this association.

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