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Endocrine Rehabilitation: A New Medical Service

In the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, an endocrinologist of the University of Padova (N. Sonino) and a psychologist of the University of Bologna (G. fava) introduce the concept of rehabilitation in endocrinology and the need of a new type of medical service.

Long-standing endocrine disorders may imply a degree of irreversibility of the pathological process and induce highly individualized affective responses. The psychosocial impairment that is associated with incomplete remission from endocrine illness suggests the need for an innovative approach to treatment, introducing in clinical endocrinology the concept of rehabilitation, which in other fields of medicine is already established.

This new proposal stems from a number of unresolved issues related to the high prevalence of psychosocial impairment in patients adequately treated for various endocrine conditions. Indeed, rehabilitation in endocrinology may be indicated in the following cases: (a) delayed recovery after appropriate treatment; (b) discrepancy between endocrine status and current functioning; (c) presence of a decline in physical and social functioning; (d) persistence of important comorbidity, with special reference to psychiatric disturbances; (e) assessment of abnormal illness behavior; (f) problems with lifestyle and risk behavior, and (g) potential role of stress in endocrine disturbances.

The endocrine rehabilitation team should ideally include a trained clinical endocrinologist, a physical therapist and a psychologist, with opportunities for other specialist consultations. The goal of such service would be to ensure education, support and specific interventions, helping the patient and his/her family to achieve optimal coping with the difficulties of the recovery process. Due to its comprehensive psychosomatic characterization, this new approach would likely increase the chances of obtaining full recovery in a significant proportion of patients and has the potential of being cost-effective.

Giovanni Andrea Fava | alfa
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