, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 373-376

Professional satisfaction experienced when caring for substance-abusing patients

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This survey aimed to describe and compare resident and faculty physician satisfaction, attitudes, and practices regarding patients with addictions. Of 144 primary care physicians, 40% used formal screening tools; 24% asked patients’ family history. Physicians were less likely (P<.05) to experience at least a moderate amount of professional satisfaction caring for patients with alcohol (32% of residents, 49% of faculty) or drug (residents 30%, faculty 31%) problems than when managing hypertension (residents 76%, faculty 79%). Interpersonal experience with addictions was common (85% of faculty, 72% of residents) but not associated with attitudes, practices, or satisfaction. Positive attitudes toward addiction treatment (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 4.60; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.59 to 13.29), confidence in assessment and intervention (AOR, 2.49; 95% CI, 1.09 to 5.69), and perceived responsibility for addressing substance problems (AOR, 5.59; CI, 2.07 to 15.12) were associated with greater satisfaction. Professional satisfaction caring for patients with substance problems is lower than that for other illnesses. Addressing physician satisfaction may improve care for patients with addictions.

This work was presented in part at the annual meeting of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars Program, Tucson, Ariz, December 4, 1998, the annual meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco, Calif, April 29, 1999, and at the annual meeting of the Association of Medical Education and Research on Substance Abuse, Alexandria, Va, November 5, 1999.
Dr. Saitz received support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar (Grant No. 031489) for this work. He and Dr. Samet were also supported in this work by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (Faculty Development Grant T26-SP08355). Drs. Samet, Saitz, and Sullivan, and Mr. Winter and Ms. Lloyd-travaglini receive support from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R01-AA10870). Dr. Friedmann was supported by a Mentored Clinical Scientist Career Development Award (K08-DA 00320).