Journal article

Healthcare employment as a risk factor for functional neurological disorder: A case–control study


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  • 11.09.2023
Published in:
  • European Journal of Neurology. - Wiley. - 2023
English Background and purpose: Female gender, younger age and stressful life events are known predisposing factors for functional neurological disorders (FNDs). Employment in a healthcare profession has also been suggested to be a predisposing factor. We set out to conduct a large-scale case–control study to estimate the rate employment in a healthcare profession among people with FND.
Methods: We included 200 consecutive patients with a confirmed diagnosis of FND, referred to our clinic at University Hospital Bern Switzerland between October 1, 2016, and August 1, 2019. In addition, we included a control group of 200 patients with a confirmed
neurological disorder, matched for age and gender, seen during the same period. The primary endpoint was to compare the prevalence of healthcare professionals between the groups. We also describe the clinical manifestations and concomitant psychiatric diagnoses in the FND cohort.
Results: Female gender was predominant (70%), and the participants’ mean age was 37 years. The proportion of healthcare professionals in the FND patients was 18% (33/186), which was significantly higher than in the control group, in which it was 10.6%
(17/189; p = 0.019, 95% confidence interval odds ratio 1.168–4.074). Most healthcare professionals in both cohorts were nurses (21/33 among FND patients, 10/17 among controls). Among FND patients, 140 (70%) had motor symptoms and 65 (32.5%) had a
concomitant psychiatric diagnosis.
Conclusion: This case–control study confirmed a higher rate of employment in healthcare professions in patients with FND, suggesting two potential mechanisms of FND: exposure to models/specific knowledge about neurological symptoms or stress-related professional factors. This warrants further studies on underlying mechanisms and prevention.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Médecine 3ème année
  • English
Pathology, clinical medicine
Open access status
Persistent URL

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