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(MUSIC) Medical Education on Medically Unexplained Symptoms and Intercultural Communication

Project summary

About 5% of the European population report symptoms for which the doctor cannot find a medical cause, even after adequate medical examinations. These Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS) are f.e. chronic fatigue, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, chronic lower back pain or non-cardiac chest pain. MUS represent 30-40% of the caseload of doctors and are one of the most expensive diagnostic categories in Europe.
MUS consultations are perceived by many doctors in Europe as very difficult, especially when patients are from different ethnic minorities. In practice most doctors feel incompetent to define with their patients a problem definition and are easily triggered to perform more additional medical investigations. The crucial challenges in MUS intercultural doctor-patient communication are differences in perspectives, values and beliefs about illness. MUS as well as intercultural doctor-patient communication (IC) gets not enough emphasis in undergraduate and postgraduate medical teaching in European countries despite the weight of the problem in healthcare.
MUSIC aims to search for existing effective as well as new, promising patient-centered communication interventions focused on MUS and IC, and to transfer this information into competencies, assessments and education programmes to better prepare European doctors for their daily clinical encounters with ethnic minority MUS patients.


Students will acquire competences to better treat MUS patients from minority groups. The partners will be able to improve training programmes for teachers and students. The longer term benefits of MUSIC are an improved healthcare for ethnic MUS patients, less costs due to more effective consultations and less unnecessary referrals.

More detailed information

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Anne Weiland

Role Erasmus MC:



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