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Suboptimal Prescribing Attitudes Could Signal Personal Distress

Med students experiencing depression, alcohol abuse less likely to report impaired colleagues

FRIDAY, April 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Medical students in personal distress may be more likely to have suboptimal attitudes about self-prescribing and personal responsibility for reporting impaired colleagues, according to a study published in the April issue of Academic Medicine.

In a cross-sectional study, Liselotte N. Dyrbye, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues examined medical students' attitudes about appropriate prescribing behaviors and their personal responsibility to report impaired colleagues. A total of 4,402 U.S. medical students completed surveys.

The researchers found that few medical students felt it was appropriate to prescribe an antidepressant to self or spouse (<10 percent), while more students felt it was appropriate to prescribe an antibiotic for oneself or spouse (34.5 and 57.7 percent, respectively). In multivariate analysis, the likelihood of agreeing that each of the inappropriate prescribing behaviors was acceptable was increased for students with burnout (odds ratios, 1.15 to 1.51). Students with burnout were less likely to feel a personal responsibility to report colleagues with alcohol or substance use-linked impairment (odds ratio, 0.87). Students with depression and those with alcohol abuse/dependence were less likely to be believe they had a duty to report colleagues with impairment due to mental health problems or alcohol/substance use (odds ratios, 0.72 and 0.55, respectively).

"Suboptimal attitudes are associated with personal distress, further evidence of a link between personal distress and professionalism," the authors write.

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