Skip Page Header

Home > Physicians' norms and attitudes towards substance use in colleague physicians: A cross-sectional survey in the Netherlands.

Geuijen, Pauline and de Rond, Marlies and Kuppens, Joanneke and Atsma, Femke and Schene, Aart and de Haan, Hein and de Jong, Cornelis and Schellekens, Arnt [PLOS One] . (2020) Physicians' norms and attitudes towards substance use in colleague physicians: A cross-sectional survey in the Netherlands. PLoS ONE, 15 (4 e0231084) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0231084

URL: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.13...

INTRODUCTION: Substance use disorders (SUD) in physicians often remain concealed for a long time. Peer monitoring and open discussions with colleagues are essential for identifying SUD. However, physicians often feel uncomfortable discussing substance use with a colleague. We explored physicians' attitudes and norms about substance use (disorders) and their (intended) approach upon a presumption of substance use in a colleague.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: An online cross-sectional survey concerning "Addiction in physicians" was administered by the Royal Dutch Medical Association physician panel. Overall, 1685 physicians (47%) responded. Data were analyzed by logistic regression to explore factors associated with taking action upon a substance use presumption.

RESULTS: Most physicians agreed that SUD can happen to anyone (67%), is not a sign of weakness (78%) and that it is a disease that can be treated (83%). Substance use in a working context was perceived as unacceptable (alcohol at work: 99%, alcohol during a standby duty: 91%, alcohol in the eight hours before work: 77%, and illicit drugs in the eight hours before work: 97%). Almost all respondents (97%) intend to act upon a substance use presumption in a colleague. Of the 29% who ever had this presumption, 65% took actual action. Actual action was associated with male gender and older age (OR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.20-2.74 and OR = 1.03; 95% CI = 1.01-1.05, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: About one-third of physicians reported experience with a presumption of substance use in a colleague. Whilst most physicians intend to take action upon such a presumption, two-thirds actually do act upon a presumption. To bridge this intention-behavior gap continued medical education on signs and symptoms of SUD and instructions on how to enter a supportive dialogue with a colleague about personal issues, may enhance physicians' knowledge, confidence, and ethical responsibility to act upon a presumption of substance use or other concerns in a colleague.


Repository Staff Only: item control page