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2010 Annual Meeting Abstracts

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Attitudes and Needs of Physicians in Emotional/Psychological Support: Results of an Interdisciplinary Survey
*Yue-Yung Hu1, *Megan L. Fix2, *Nathanael Hevelone1, *Stuart R. Lipsitz1, *Caprice C. Greenberg1, *Jo Shapiro1
1Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, MA;2Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME

Objective: To characterize the level of need and attitudes towards support among physicians.
Design: Single cross-sectional, multidisciplinary survey.
Setting: Large, tertiary care institution.
Participants: Convenience sample of Grand Rounds attendees in the departments of Surgery, Anesthesiology, and Emergency Medicine.
Main Outcome Measures: Willingness to seek support, perceived barriers, preferred sources of support, and experience with traumatic events in the preceding year.
Results: 77% of respondents had experienced a serious adverse patient event (52%) and/or a traumatic personal event (57%) within the preceding year. 96% reported willingness to seek support for any potential difficulties, including legal situations (73%), involvement in medical errors (68%), adverse patient events (65%), substance abuse (68%), physical illness (63%), interpersonal conflict at work (54%), mental health illness (48%), poor patient outcomes regardless of responsibility (40%), illness in family (39%), personal life struggles (30%), and burnout (25%). Barriers included lack of time (89%), lack of confidentiality (70%), the potential for negative impact on career (68%), fear of chart documentation (64%), the stigma of mental health care (63%), uncertainty about whom to see (60%) and difficulty with access (52%). Physician colleagues were the most popular potential sources of support (90%), outnumbering traditionally available mechanisms like Employee Assistance Program (42%) and mental health professionals (47%).
Conclusions: Despite the prevalence of stressful experiences and the desire for support among physicians, established services are underutilized. As physician colleagues were the most acceptable sources of support, we advocate peer support as the most effective way to penetrate this sensitive, but important issue. To this end, we are training faculty and residents to serve as peer supporters.


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