Interactional behaviour as a marker for screening patients with environment-related complaints

Brand, Serge; Heller, Pia; Bircher, Andreas; Braun-Fahrländer, Charlotte; Huss, Anke; Niederer, Markus; Schwarzenbach, Simone; Waeber, Roger; Wegmann, Lukas; Küchenhoff, Joachim (2007). Interactional behaviour as a marker for screening patients with environment-related complaints. International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 210(1), pp. 79-89. Amsterdam: Elsevier 10.1016/j.ijheh.2006.08.003

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BACKGROUND: Adequate assessment of symptoms of patients suffering from environmental illnesses requires appropriate procedures such as psychological and psychiatric diagnostics, medical screening and a thorough analysis of noxious environmental factors. The Basel pilot research project established a multi-methodological assessment procedure that meets these criteria. However, an exhaustive three-fold analysis is very costly in terms of both equipment and personnel, and hence the need for a heuristic approach and pre-screening persists. METHOD: The three-fold diagnostic approach was preceded by a structured psychodynamic interview; the findings were used to construct a new profile of the patient's interactional behaviour (IB) in conjunction with the interviewer's countertransference. The extent to which this new profile could predict the results of the multi-method assessment was then assessed. RESULTS: A low level of IB on the part of the patient significantly predicted the degree of stress and the extent of the psychiatric diagnosis, including personality disorders. A negative IB was associated with negative personality traits. Furthermore, a high level of IB implied more medical, but not more environmental, findings which could plausibly be related to the patient's complaints. CONCLUSIONS: Assessment of patients' IB in conjunction with one's own countertransference is very helpful as a preliminary heuristic approach and may lead to consequences for treatment and therapy. Therefore, the training provided for experts who deal with patients suffering from environment-related complaints should place more specific emphasis on assessing patients' behaviour and on incorporating information gathered from countertransference. Nevertheless, an interdisciplinary assessment including medical, psychological/psychiatric, and environmental expertise remains mandatory for adequate and satisfactory diagnosis of patients with environment-related complaints.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Huss, Anke










Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:53

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2015 21:59

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URI: (FactScience: 35708)

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