Multiple Symptoms Study 3

Multiple Symptoms Study 3: Pragmatic trial of a community based clinic for patients with persistent (medically unexplained) physical symptoms

MSS3 study logo

UPDATE February 2023

We are pleased to announce that the Multiple Symptoms Study 3 trial has now closed.  We would like to thank all participants and aim to report the results from August 2023.

 Multiple Symptoms Study 3 is a large randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of a Symptoms Clinic for people with persistent “medically unexplained” physical symptoms.


Persistent physical symptoms (which cannot be adequately attributed to physical disease) affect around 1 million people (2% of adults) in the UK. They affect patients’ quality of life and account for at least one-third of referrals from GPs to specialists. These referrals give patients little benefit but have a real cost to health services in terms of time and diagnostic resources. When patients are told that medical tests do not show a cause for their symptoms they are commonly disappointed in their interactions with clinicians.

We know that patients with symptoms want to have those symptoms explained in acceptable ways in order to know that their symptoms are legitimate, and find ways to adapt to them and manage them. Without explanation, many patients seek further healthcare use while at the same time losing confidence that it will help them.

The Symptoms Clinic

The Symptoms Clinic is a set of up to four medical appointments designed to help people make sense of persistent physical symptoms (especially if medical tests have been negative) and to reduce the impact of symptoms on daily life. Consultations will take place via video link with a doctor who has had special training for the Symptoms Clinic Intervention.

The consultations include detailed medical history taking, explanation (including discussion of appropriate diagnosis) and advice about management. The Symptoms Clinic involves an initial long consultation of approximately 50 minutes followed up by two or three medium-length consultations of 15-20 minutes.

Study update

The study is currently in follow up.

Project team

If you have any questions about MSS3 please contact the Trial Manager, Cara Mooney:

Name Role Site
Professor Chris Burton Chief Investigator Academic Unit of Primary Medical Care, University of Sheffield
Cara Mooney Trial Manager Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Sheffield
Professor Vincent Deary Co-investigator Northumbria University, Newcastle
Professor Jeremy Dawson Trial Statistician School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield
Professor Gillian Rowlands Principal Investigator Newcastle University
Dr Ruth Thomas Co-investigator University of Aberdeen
Professor Cindy Cooper Director, Clinical Trials Research Unit Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Sheffield
Professor Monica Greco Co-investigator Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Tom Sanders Co-investigator Northumbria University, Newcastle
Aileen Neilson Co-investigator The University of Edinburgh
David White Co-investigator Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Sheffield
Dr Steve Thomas Co-Investigator NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group
Dr Michelle Horspool Sponsor Representative NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group
Dr Waquas Waheed Principal Investigator The University of Manchester
Laura Sutton Trial Statistician Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Sheffield
Emily Turton Trial Data Manager Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Sheffield
Rowena Seaton Kelly Trial Support Officer Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Sheffield


This project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme (project number 15/136/07).


NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group.

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