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Table 2 Explanations given by the patients for symptoms categorised according to the SEMI coding manual.

From: Understanding the explanatory model of the patient on their medically unexplained symptoms and its implication on treatment development research: a Sri Lanka Study

Perceived cause Frequency Percentage
Internal world (originating in the body or mind) 18 26.4
Mechanical-damage/blockage/abnormal function 6 8.8
   Examples; 'Happened after the child birth; caesarean section',' Because of an injury to my leg 5 years back', 'Gastritis',' Illness of nerves', 'A fish bone or a metal pin stuck in the throat', 'I have swallowed a metal pin in 1950','a poison has got into my body',   
Psychological/Emotional-worry/fear/upset/sad/lazy 5 7.4
   Examples;'Because I breast fed my child while another child was watching', 'Brother got paralysed at the age of 37 years and I think about it'   
Substance abuse-smoke/alcohol/ 1 1.5
   Examples; 'Because of chewing betel', 'Did not eat my meals on time and neglected myself',   
Fatigue- run down/weak spot/non specific stress 2 2.9
Ageing 2 2.9
Imbalance-diet/vitamin/lack of blood/hot cold 2 2.9
   Examples;'Because of the Vatha' (ayurvedic concept referring to wind or gas) 'Due to too much heat in the body',   
Natural world 1 1.5
   Weather-rain/damp/sun/cold 1 1.5
Social world 10 14.8
Wrong action by health professionals 3 4.4
Delay in seeking help 1 1.5
Discrimination 1 1.5
Money 1 1.5
   Examples;'Because I was not successful in life'   
Work related 4 5.9
   Examples;' Because I was in the catering field I developed anorexia for food',   
Supernatural world 1 1.5
Supernatural or Magic by a human agency 1 1.5
   Examples;'An evil spell cast by somebody else,' 'Due to de-merits of an earlier birth'   
Any other – (vague answers that did not fit into any of above) 13 19.1
Unable to say 25 36.8
   'No idea', 'Don't know'   
Total 68 100.0