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Occup Med (Lond). 2011 Oct;61(7):490-7. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqr098. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

A review of self-medication in physicians and medical students.

Author information

1
Department of Education and Social Policy, University of Macedonia, Egnatia Street 156, Thessaloniki 54006, Greece. antmont@uom.gr

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is a culture within medicine that doctors do not expect themselves or their colleagues to be sick. Thus, the associated complexities of self-diagnosis, self-referral and self-treatment among physicians are significant and may have repercussions for both their own health and, by implication, for the quality of care delivered to patients.

AIMS:

To collate what is known about the self-treatment behaviour of physicians and medical students.

METHODS:

The following databases were searched: PubMed, PsychInfo, EBSCO, Medline, BioMed central and Science Direct. Inclusion criteria specified research assessing self-treatment and self-medicating of prescription drugs among physicians and/or medical students. Only peer-reviewed English language empirical studies published between 1990 and 2009 were included.

RESULTS:

Twenty-seven studies were identified that fitted the inclusion criteria. Self-treatment and self-medicating was found to be a significant issue for both physicians and medical students. In 76% of studies, reported self-treatment was >50% (range: 12-99%). Overall, only one of two respondents was registered with a general practitioner or primary care physician (mean = 56%, range = 21-96). Deeper analysis of studies revealed that physicians believed it was appropriate to self-treat both acute and chronic conditions and that informal care paths were common within the medical profession.

CONCLUSIONS:

Self-treatment is strongly embedded within the culture of both physicians and medical students as an accepted way to enhance/buffer work performance. The authors believe that these complex self-directed care behaviours could be regarded as an occupational hazard for the medical profession.

PMID:
21727179
DOI:
10.1093/occmed/kqr098
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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