Helena Liira, Head Physician of the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, is studying functional disorders.

At the functional disorder outpatient clinic established in 2019, we treat patients for whose symptoms no causes have been found in somatic examinations. They may have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, neurological functional symptoms or difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).

“We monitor these patients for one year in the cohort study. The cohort recruitment was begun in March 2020. The goal is to compile data on the patients’ functional capacity, quality of life and recovery during the monitoring period. We also monitor their depression, anxiety, progress of symptoms and resilience, i.e. how well they recover from their disorder,” says Liira.

Liira’s research project comprises a follow-up study, a qualitative study and a randomized, controlled experiment. The cohort study serves as the quality register for the outpatient clinic, generating information for improving treatment for this group of patients and helping plan future intervention studies for instance by illustrating how well various indicators work in this patient group.

The cohort study is progressing steadily and our goal is to publish its first descriptive results in spring 2021 in the journal BMJ Open, for example.

Preparation is underway for an intervention study on real-time remote consultation for functional disorders. The functional disorder outpatient clinic is currently suffering from a flood of referrals, and real-time remote consultations are intended as a response to this.