Survey of the perceptions of health practitioners regarding Functional Neurological Disorders in Australia

Alexander Lehn*, Joanne Bullock-Saxton, P. Newcombe, Alan Carson, Jon Stone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives of this study were to identify the knowledge and support needs for a wide range of health professions who come in contact with patients with Functional Neurological Disorders (FND) in Australia. Invitations to an anonymous online survey (36 items) were sent to health professionals (practicing in the fields of neurology, psychiatry, psychology, general practice, nursing and physiotherapy) who are involved in the care of patients suffering from FND. Potential participants were invited via professional and hospital databases, advertising in professional newsletters as well as direct emails. A total of 538 health professionals completed the questionnaire. Most participants did not feel well educated about FND with only 14% of General practitioners (GPs) reporting ‘good’ knowledge. Neurologists, GPs and nurses reported lower clinical interest and greater negative attitude towards FND than psychiatrists, psychologists and physiotherapists. Many health professionals do not feel confident discussing the possibility of a Functional Neurological Disorder with a patient. Seeing more patients per year was significantly correlated with greater knowledge (r = 0.54) and confidence diagnosing (r = 0.49) FND. It was also significantly related to confidence in discussing the diagnosis of FND with a patient (r = 0.44). These factors were not significantly related to years of practice. Although patients suffering from Functional Neurological Disorders are commonly seen by many health professionals in clinic practice, there is little training in this area and self-perceived knowledge in Australia is generally poor. There is, however, clear interest in this area and our findings suggest that improved teaching and education of health professionals about FND and its management could potentially have a significant impact towards better patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-123
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • Conversion Disorder
  • Education
  • Functional Neurological Disorder
  • Neuropsychiatry


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