The challenge of functional neurological disorder - views of patients, doctors and medical students

G. Hutchinson, S.C. Linden*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


PurposeThis study aims to explore views and attitudes of doctors, patients and medical students in regard to Functional Neurological Disorders (FND), a common presentation in neurological and psychiatric practice.Design/methodology/approachWe conducted semi-structured interviews with 11 clinicians and obtained online questionnaires from 21 patients and 75 medical students. We applied thematic analysis.FindingsThe clinician and patient surveys highlighted the importance of the therapeutic relationship and need for transparent communication. However, patients criticised excessive reliance on online resources in doctor-patient communication. They also emphasised the relevance of triggering life events, which was not a prominent theme for clinicians. Medical students had only scant knowledge of the concept of functional neurological disorder.Practical implicationsA good therapeutic relationship is considered central for outcome of FND by both clinicians and patients. The survey of medical students has identified considerable gaps in undergraduate medical education in FND. The patient survey can inform recommendations for the explanation of aetiological models and treatment options in clinical practice.Originality/valueThis is the first study exploring the attitudes of clinicians, medical students and patients to FND. The study highlights potential areas of disagreement between these groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2021


  • conversion
  • interviews
  • placebo
  • psychosomatic
  • questionnaires
  • semi-structured
  • suggestion
  • thematic analysis
  • Thematic analysis
  • Conversion
  • Suggestion
  • Semi-structured
  • Questionnaires
  • Placebo
  • Psychosomatic
  • Interviews

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