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Addict Behav. 1987;12(1):23-32.

Patients' substance abuse and the primary care physician: patterns of practice.


The Social Learning Theory concepts of self-efficacy and outcome expectations were used to study physician practice regarding patients' smoking, alcohol problems, OTC drug problems, and illicit drug use in a random sample of Texas primary care physicians. The highest proportion of physicians took histories and counseled patients regarding the abuse of cigarettes, followed by alcohol, OTC drugs, and illicit drugs. Outside referral was most likely for illicit drugs, followed by alcohol, OTC drugs, and smoking. Multivariate discriminant analysis showed year of graduation, specialty, self-efficacy, and outcome expectation for patient compliance to be predictive of many of the behavior/practice level combinations. More recently trained physicians, internists, and family practice specialists were more likely to practice in the substance abuse areas. Self-efficacy and outcome expectation were positively related to history-taking and counseling and negatively related to outside referral. Interventions to increase physicians' self-efficacy and expectations for patient compliance and to provide more realistic expectations for treatment "success" are needed, especially for physicians who are not recently trained. Further research to clarify the process by which physicians' cognitions of self-efficacy and outcome expectations influence their practice behavior is also recommended.

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