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1.  Universal coverage without universal access: a study of psychiatrist supply and practice patterns in Ontario 
Open Medicine  2014;8(3):e87-e99.
We studied the relationships among psychiatrist supply, practice patterns, and access to psychiatrists in Ontario Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) with differing levels of psychiatrist supply.
We analyzed practice patterns of full-time psychiatrists (n = 1379) and postdischarge care to patients who had been admitted to hospital for psychiatric care, according to LHIN psychiatrist supply in 2009. We measured the characteristics of psychiatrists' patient panels, including sociodemographic characteristics, outpatient panel size, number of new patients, inpatient and outpatient visits per psychiatrist, and percentages of psychiatrists seeing fewer than 40 and fewer than 100 unique patients. Among patients admitted to hospital with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression (n = 21,123), we measured rates of psychiatrist visits, readmissions, and visits to the emergency department within 30 and 180 days after discharge.
Psychiatrist supply varied from 7.2 per 100 000 residents in LHINs with below-average supply to 62.7 per 100 000 in the Toronto Central LHIN. Population-based outpatient and inpatient visit rates and psychiatric admission rates increased with LHIN psychiatrist supply. However, as the supply of psychiatrists increased, outpatient panel size for full-time psychiatrists decreased, with Toronto psychiatrists having 58% smaller outpatient panels and seeing 57% fewer new outpatients relative to LHINs with the lowest psychiatrist supply. Similar patterns were found for inpatient practice. Moreover, as supply increased, annual outpatient visit frequency increased: the average visit frequency was 7 visits per outpatient for Toronto psychiatrists and 3.9 visits per outpatient in low-supply LHINs. One-quarter of Toronto psychiatrists and 2% of psychiatrists in the lowest-supply LHINs saw their outpatients more than 16 times per year. Of full-time psychiatrists in Toronto, 10% saw fewer than 40 unique patients and 40% saw fewer than 100 unique patients annually; the corresponding proportions were 4% and 10%, respectively, in the lowest-supply LHINs. Overall, follow-up visits after psychiatric discharge were low, with slightly higher rates in LHINs with a high psychiatrist supply.
Full-time psychiatrists who practised in Ontario LHINs with high psychiatrist supply saw fewer patients, but they saw those patients more frequently than was the case for psychiatrists in low-supply LHINs. Increasing the supply of psychiatrists while funding unlimited frequency and duration of psychotherapy care may not improve access for patients who need psychiatric services.
PMCID: PMC4242254  PMID: 25426177
2.  Preliminary study of associative stigma among trainee psychiatrists in Flanders, Belgium 
World Journal of Psychiatry  2014;4(3):62-68.
AIM: To study the degree of stigmatization among trainee psychiatrists, individual characteristics potentially leading to higher associative stigma, and coping mechanisms.
METHODS: Two hundred and seven trainee psychiatrists in Flanders (Belgium), all member of the Flemish Association of Trainee Psychiatrists, were approached to participate in the survey. A non-demanding questionnaire that was specifically designed for the purpose of the study was sent by mail. The questionnaire consisted of three parts, each emphasizing a different aspect of associative stigma: devaluing and humiliating interactions, the focus on stigma during medical training, and identification with negative stereotypes in the media. Answers were scored on a Likert scale ranging from 0 to 3. The results were analyzed using SPSS Version 18.0.
RESULTS: The response rate of the study was 75.1%. The internal consistency of the questionnaire was good, with a Cronbach’s α of 0.71. Seventy-five percent of all trainee psychiatrists confirmed hearing denigrating or humiliating remarks about the psychiatric profession more than once. Additionally, more than half of them had had remarks about the incompetence of psychiatrists directed at them. Only 1.3% remembered having stigma as a topic during their psychiatric training. Trainees who had been in training for a longer period of time had experienced a significantly higher level of stigmatization than trainees with fewer years of experience (mean total stigma scores of 16.93 ± SD 7.8 vs 14.45 ± SD 6.1, t = -2.179 and P < 0.05). In addition, senior trainees effectively kept quiet about their profession significantly more often than their junior colleagues (mean item score 0.44 ± SD 0.82 vs 0.13 ± SD 0.48, t = 2.874, P < 0.01). Comparable results were found in trainees working in adult psychiatry as were found in those working in child or youth psychiatry (mean item score 0.38 ± SD 0.77 vs 0.15 ± SD 0.53, t = -2.153, P < 0.05). Biologically oriented trainees were more inclined to give preventive explanations about their profession, which can be seen as a coping mechanism used to deal with this stigma (mean item score 2.05 ± SD 1.05 vs 1.34 ± SD 1.1, t = -3.403, P < 0.01).
CONCLUSION: Associative stigma in trainee psychiatrists is underestimated. More attention should be paid to this potentially harmful phenomenon in training.
PMCID: PMC4171138  PMID: 25250223
Associative stigma; Trainee psychiatrist; Psychiatry training; Mental health gap; Coping mechanisms
3.  Cross-sectional study of attitudes about suicide among psychiatrists in Shanghai 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14:87.
Attitudes and knowledge about suicide may influence psychiatrists’ management of suicidal patients but there has been little research about this issue in China.
We used the Scale of Public Attitudes about Suicide (SPAS) – a 47-item scale developed and validated in China – to assess knowledge about suicide and seven specific attitudes about suicide in a sample of 187 psychiatrists from six psychiatric hospitals in Shanghai. The results were compared to those of 548 urban community members (assessed in a previous study).
Compared to urban community members, psychiatrists were more likely to believe that suicide can be prevented and that suicide is an important social problem but they had more stigmatizing beliefs about suicidal individuals and felt less empathy for them. The belief that suicide can be prevented was more common among female psychiatrists than male psychiatrists but male psychiatrists felt more empathy for suicidal individuals. Only 37% of the psychiatrists correctly agreed that talking about suicide-related issues with an individual would not precipitate suicidal behavior and only 41% correctly agreed that those who state that they intend to kill themselves may actually do so.
Many psychiatrists in Shanghai harbor negative attitudes about suicidal individuals and are concerned that directly addressing the issue with patients will increase the risk of suicide. Demographic factors, educational status and work experience are associated with psychiatrists’ attitudes about suicide and, thus, need to be considered when training psychiatrists about suicide prevention.
PMCID: PMC3987172  PMID: 24666549
Suicide; Attitudes; Psychiatrists; China
4.  International Migration of Doctors, and Its Impact on Availability of Psychiatrists in Low and Middle Income Countries 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):e9049.
Migration of health professionals from low and middle income countries to rich countries is a large scale and long-standing phenomenon, which is detrimental to the health systems in the donor countries. We sought to explore the extent of psychiatric migration.
In our study, we use the respective professional databases in each country to establish the numbers of psychiatrists currently registered in the UK, US, New Zealand, and Australia who originate from other countries. We also estimate the impact of this migration on the psychiatrist population ratios in the donor countries.
We document large numbers of psychiatrists currently registered in the UK, US, New Zealand and Australia originating from India (4687 psychiatrists), Pakistan (1158), Bangladesh (149) , Nigeria (384) , Egypt (484), Sri Lanka (142), Philippines (1593). For some countries of origin, the numbers of psychiatrists currently registered within high-income countries' professional databases are very small (e.g., 5 psychiatrists of Tanzanian origin registered in the 4 high-income countries we studied), but this number is very significant compared to the 15 psychiatrists currently registered in Tanzania). Without such emigration, many countries would have more than double the number of psychiatrists per 100, 000 population (e.g. Bangladesh, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon); and some countries would have had five to eight times more psychiatrists per 100,000 (e.g. Philippines, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Liberia, Nigeria and Zambia).
Large numbers of psychiatrists originating from key low and middle income countries are currently registered in the UK, US, New Zealand and Australia, with concomitant impact on the psychiatrist/population ratio n the originating countries. We suggest that creative international policy approaches are needed to ensure the individual migration rights of health professionals do not compromise societal population rights to health, and that there are public and fair agreements between countries within an internationally agreed framework.
PMCID: PMC2816209  PMID: 20140216
5.  Attitudes of Ontario psychiatrists towards health insurance. 
In 1979 the opinions of Ontario psychiatrists were sought regarding the influence of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) on the practice of their specialty. Full replies to a 44-item questionnaire were received from more than half the certified psychiatrists in Ontario, half of whom had been in practice before the introduction of OHIP. Both satisfaction and uneasiness were expressed about most aspects of health insurance. Many of the 416 psychiatrists stated that OHIP had improved access to psychiatric care, providing a more socially diverse practice, especially with respect to psychotherapy. Only one quarter believed that OHIP constituted a major intrusion on the doctor-patient relationship, and the majority reported that OHIP had been beneficial to themselves as psychiatrists (70%) and to their patients (86%). Almost half reported having raised their concern about the confidentiality of OHIP records with their patients; the patients less often brought up the issue. Although most psychiatrists in practice before the introduction of OHIP reported no change in their conduct of psychotherapy, a minority reported a decrease in the duration of treatment and an increase in the frequency of missed appointments. Also noted was an increase in the number of referrals for consultation, which led at times to overutilization of these specialists' services.
PMCID: PMC1862265  PMID: 7272866
6.  Covert Treatment in Psychiatry: Do No Harm, True, But Also Dare to Care 
Mens Sana Monographs  2008;6(1):81-109.
Covert treatment raises a number of ethical and practical issues in psychiatry. Viewpoints differ from the standpoint of psychiatrists, caregivers, ethicists, lawyers, neighbours, human rights activists and patients. There is little systematic research data on its use but it is quite certain that there is relatively widespread use. The veil of secrecy around the procedure is due to fear of professional censure. Whenever there is a veil of secrecy around anything, which is aided and abetted by vociferous opposition from some sections of society, the result is one of two: 1) either the activity goes underground or 2) it is reluctantly discarded, although most of those who used it earlier knew it was needed. Covert treatment has the dubious distinction of suffering both such secrecy and disapproval.
Covert treatment has a number of advantages and disadvantages in psychotic disorders. The advantages are that it helps solve practical clinical problems; prevents delays in starting treatment, which is associated with clinical risks and substantial costs; prevents risk of self-destructive behaviour and/or physical assault by patient; prevents relapse; and prevents demoralization of staff. The disadvantages are that it maybe used with malafide intent by caregivers with or without the complicity of psychiatrists; it may be used to force conformity in dissenters; and the clinician may land himself in legal tangles even with its legitimate use. In addition, it may prevent insight, encourage denial, promote unhealthy practices in the treating staff and prevent understanding of why noncompliance occurs in the first place.
Some support its use in dementia and learning disorders but oppose it in schizophrenia. The main reason is that uncooperative patients of schizophrenia (and related psychoses) are considered to be those who refuse treatment but retain capacity; while in dementia and severe learning disorder, uncooperative patients are those who lack capacity. This paper disputes this contention by arguing that although uncooperative patients of schizophrenia (and related psychoses) apparently retain capacity, it is limited, in fact distorted, since they lack insight. It presents the concept of insight-unconsciousness in a patient of psychosis. Just as an unconscious patient has to be given covert medical/surgical treatment, similarly an insight-unconscious patient with one of the different psychoses (in the acute phase or otherwise) may also have to be given covert treatment till he regains at least partial insight. It helps control psychotic symptoms and assists the patient in regaining enough insight to realize he needs treatment. Another argument against covert treatment is that people with schizophrenia have the capacity to learn and therefore can learn that they are required to take medications, but if medications are given covertly it may well fuel their paranoia. However, it should be noted that the patient who has lack of insight cannot learn unless he regains that insight, and he may need covert treatment to facilitate this process. Covert treatment can fuel the paranoia, true, but it can also control the psychotic symptoms sufficiently so that regular treatment can be initiated. In a patient who refuses to accept that he is sick and when involuntary commitment is not an option to be considered, covert treatment is the only option, apart from physical restraint. Ultimately, a choice has to be made between a larger beneficence (control of symptoms and start of therapy) and a smaller malevolence (necessary therapy, but without the patient's knowledge and consent).
A number of practical clinical scenarios are outlined wherein the psychiatrist should adopt covert treatment in the best interests of the patient. Ethical issues of autonomy, power, secrecy and malafide intent arise; each of these can be countered only by non-malfeasance (above all, do no harm) under the overarch of beneficence (even above that, dare to care). An advance directive with health care proxy that sanctions covert treatment is presented. Questions raised by the practical clinical scenarios are then answered.
The conclusions are as follows: covert treatment, i.e, temporary treatment without knowledge and consent, is seldom needed or justified. But, where needed, it remains an essential weapon in the psychiatrist's armamentarium: to be used cautiously but without guilt or fear of censure. However, the psychiatrist must use it very judiciously, in the rarest of rare cases, provided: i) he is firmly convinced that it is needed for the welfare of the patient; ii) it is the only option available to tide over a crisis; iii) continuing efforts are made to try and get the patient into regular psychiatric care; iv) the psychiatrist makes it clear that its use is only as a stop-gap; v) he is always alert to the chances of malevolence inherent in such a process and keeps away from conniving or associating with anything even remotely suspicious; and vi) he takes due precautions to ensure that he does not land into legal tangles later.
The need of the hour is to explore in greater detail the need and justification for covert treatment, to lay out clear and firm parameters for its legitimate use, follow it up with standard literature and, finally, to establish clinical practice guidelines by unconflicted authors.
The term “covert treatment” is preferable to “surreptitious prescribing”; they should not be used synonymously, the latter term being reserved for those cases where there is malafide intent.
PMCID: PMC3190565  PMID: 22013352
Covert Treatment; Surreptitious prescribing; Beneficence; Non-malfeasance; Unhealthy staff practices; Autonomy; Secrecy; Malafide intent; Noncompliance; Relapse prevention; Insight-unconscious; Advance directive; Health care proxy; Dare to Care; Do no harm
7.  Stigma toward schizophrenia: do all psychiatrists behave the same? Latent profile analysis of a national sample of psychiatrists in Brazil 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:92.
An important issue concerning the worldwide fight against stigma is the evaluation of psychiatrists’ beliefs and attitudes toward schizophrenia and mental illness in general. However, there is as yet no consensus on this matter in the literature, and results vary according to the stigma dimension assessed and to the cultural background of the sample. The aim of this investigation was to search for profiles of stigmatizing beliefs related to schizophrenia in a national sample of psychiatrists in Brazil.
A sample of 1414 psychiatrists were recruited from among those attending the 2009 Brazilian Congress of Psychiatry. A questionnaire was applied in face-to-face interviews. The questionnaire addressed four stigma dimensions, all in reference to individuals with schizophrenia: stereotypes, restrictions, perceived prejudice and social distance. Stigma item scores were included in latent profile analyses; the resulting profiles were entered into multinomial logistic regression models with sociodemographics, in order to identify significant correlates.
Three profiles were identified. The “no stigma” subjects (n = 337) characterized individuals with schizophrenia in a positive light, disagreed with restrictions, and displayed a low level of social distance. The “unobtrusive stigma” subjects (n = 471) were significantly younger and displayed the lowest level of social distance, although most of them agreed with involuntary admission and demonstrated a high level of perceived prejudice. The “great stigma” subjects (n = 606) negatively stereotyped individuals with schizophrenia, agreed with restrictions and scored the highest on the perceived prejudice and social distance dimensions. In comparison with the first two profiles, this last profile comprised a significantly larger number of individuals who were in frequent contact with a family member suffering from a psychiatric disorder, as well as comprising more individuals who had no such family member.
Our study not only provides additional data related to an under-researched area but also reveals that psychiatrists are a heterogeneous group regarding stigma toward schizophrenia. The presence of different stigma profiles should be evaluated in further studies; this could enable anti-stigma initiatives to be specifically designed to effectively target the stigmatizing group.
PMCID: PMC3608131  PMID: 23517184
Social distance; Stereotype; Prejudice; Psychosis; Mental health professionals
8.  Survey of United States Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists' Cardiac Screening Practices Prior to Starting Patients on Stimulants 
The purpose of this study was to determine psychiatrists' barriers, attitudes, and practices regarding cardiac screening prior to initiating stimulants in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Professional and federal oversight organizations recently have debated the evidence regarding sudden cardiac death (SCD) risk with stimulants, and have published guidelines recommending cardiac screening. It is not known how psychiatrists have responded.
This study was a cross-sectional survey of 1,600 randomly-selected U.S. members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Analyses included descriptive statistics and logistic regression.
Response rate was 40%; 96% met eligibility criteria. Barriers to identifying cardiac disorders in general included ability to perform a routine physical examination (74%) and care coordination with primary care providers (35%). Only 27% agreed that SCD risk warranted cardiac assessment. Prior to starting a patient on stimulants, 95% of psychiatrists obtained a routine history. The majority either conducted (9%), or relied on primary care providers to conduct (67%) a physical examination; 26% did not obtain a physical examination. Nineteen percent of psychiatrists ordered an electrocardiogram (ECG), of those, non-mutually exclusive reasons for ordering an ECG included standard practice procedure (62%), clinical findings (27%), medicolegal considerations (25%), and guideline adherence (24%). On multivariate modeling, psychiatrists were less likely to conduct cardiac screening themselves if in private practice (referent: academic medical center), if >50% of their patients had private insurance, or if they believed their ability to perform a physical examination to be a barrier. When modeling cardiac screening performed by any healthcare professional (e.g., psychiatrist, primary care practitioner), screening was less likely if the psychiatrist was practicing in a community mental health center (referent: academic medical center), was male, or if >50% of that psychiatrist's patients had private insurance.
Findings suggest the tacit interplay between primary care and psychiatry for the assessment and management of medical risks associated with psychotropic medications should be improved, and solutions prioritized.
PMCID: PMC3482376  PMID: 23083024
9.  Prevalence, nature and predictors of prescribing errors in mental health hospitals: a prospective multicentre study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(9):e006084.
To determine the prevalence, nature and predictors of prescribing errors (PEs) in three mental health hospitals.
Inpatient units in three National Health Service (NHS) mental health hospitals in the North West of England.
Trained clinical pharmacists prospectively recorded the number of PEs in newly written or omitted prescription items screened during their routine work on 10 data collection days. A multidisciplinary panel reviewed PE data using established methods to confirm (1) the presence of a PE, (2) the type of PE and (3) whether errors were clinically relevant and likely to cause harm.
Primary outcome measures
Frequency, nature and predictors of PEs.
Of 4427 screened prescription items, 281 were found to have one or more PEs (error rate 6.3% (95% CI 5.6 to 7.1%)). Multivariate analysis revealed that specialty trainees (OR 1.23 (1.01 to 1.51)) and staff grade psychiatrists (OR 1.50 (1.05 to 2.13)) were more likely to make PEs when compared to foundation year (FY) one doctors, and that specialty trainees and consultant psychiatrists were twice as likely to make clinically relevant PEs (OR 2.61 (2.11 to 3.22) and 2.03 (1.66 to 2.50), respectively) compared to FY one staff. Prescription items screened during the prescription chart rewrite (OR 0.52 (0.33 to 0.82)) or at discharge (OR 0.87 (0.79 to 0.97)) were less likely to be associated with PEs than items assessed during inpatient stay, although they were more likely to be associated with clinically relevant PEs (OR 2.27 (1.72 to 2.99) and 4.23 (3.68 to 4.87), respectively). Prescription items screened at hospital admission were five times more likely (OR 5.39 (2.72 to 10.69)) to be associated with clinically relevant errors than those screened during patient stay.
PEs may be more common in mental health hospitals than previously reported and important targets to minimise these errors have been identified.
PMCID: PMC4185335  PMID: 25273813
10.  Views of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) among Psychiatrists and Neurologists 
As prenatal genetic testing (GT) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) use increase, providers in many specialties may play roles in patient discussions and referrals. Hence, we examined key aspects of neurologists’ and psychiatrists’ views and approaches.
Study Design
We surveyed attitudes and practices among 163 neurologists and 372 psychiatrists.
24.9% of neurologists and 31.9% of psychiatrists had discussed prenatal GT with patients, but 95.3% didn’t feel comfortable discussing PGD; only 2.9% discussed it; and only 1.8% had patients ask about PGD. Most would refer for PGD for Huntington’s disease (HD) and Tay-Sachs, fewer for Cystic Fibrosis (CF), and fewer still for autism, Alzheimer’s (AD), or gender selection for family balancing; in each of these cases, psychiatrists > neurologists. Providers who’d refer for PGD for HD, CF, or gender selection differed from others in proportions of patients with insurance, were more likely to have undergone a GT themselves, and be concerned about discrimination.
These data, the first to examine how neurologists and psychiatrists view PGD, suggest they don’t feel comfortable discussing PGD, but have strong views about its use. Potential PGD use is associated with concerns about discrimination, and less experience with GT. These data highlight needs for enhancing education about these technologies among various providers.
PMCID: PMC4129544  PMID: 25098029
doctor-patient communication; ethics; assisted reproductive technology; obstetrics/gynecology; eugenics
11.  Referrals to Psychiatric Service in United Arab Emirates: An Analysis of the Content of Referral Letters 
To study all psychiatric referrals by General Practitioners (GPs) to the psychiatric service at Al-Ain Hospital for 7 years starting from July 1997 till December 2003. The study examined the appropriateness of referrals and the quality of information presented in the referral document. Also, it studied the outcome of this referral including the response of the psychiatrist.
The case notes of all patients referred from the Primary Health Centres to the psychiatric service of Al-Ain Hospital for the period specified were studied. The data related to the GP referral were obtained from the copy of the referral letter, in the case notes. The information included: identifying data, reason for referral, symptomatology, relevant medical history and investigations, provisional diagnosis, recommended action, and the response of the psychiatrist. The diagnosis in the referral letter was compared to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition, Primary Health Care version [ICD-10 (PHC)], and to the final diagnosis in the case notes for agreement.
among the whole sample of 503 GP referrals there were 309 males (61.4%) and 179 (35.6%) females and 15 (3%) missing data. The mean age was 32.8 years (SD=13.7), with mean age for UAE nationals 31.4 years (SD=15.58) and expatriates as 34.3 years (SD=11.32) with significant difference between the two groups (t=2.253, p=0.03), 74.2% expatriates males with significant difference, and 15 missing data. Analysis of the referral letters showed that Diagnosis was clearly indicated in 380 (77.2%), was not mentioned in 112 (22.8%) of the referral letters, with 11 missed data. Psychiatrists agreed with the GP diagnosis in 205 of them (41.7%), but considered diagnosis inaccurate in 175 (35.6%) of these cases. All the referred patients had been seen by psychiatrists. However, replies of the psychiatrists to the GPs referrals were made only in 29 patients (5.9%); 4 of these replies were written and the 2 copies of the letter were kept in the file. No reply was written in 460 cases and 14 missing data. Also physical examination and investigations were not mentioned in the majority of referrals.
There is poor quality of GP referral letters and obvious poor response rate of psychiatrists to the GPs. This is an indication for urgent need for intensive training to GPs advising them to include particular items of information in future referrals.
PMCID: PMC3068785  PMID: 21475505
12.  Physicians who experience sickness certification as a work environmental problem: where do they work and what specific problems do they have? A nationwide survey in Sweden 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000704.
In a recent study, 11% of the Swedish physicians below 65 years dealing with sickness certification tasks (SCT) experienced SCT to a great extent as a work environment problem (WEP). This study aimed at exploring which SCT problems those physicians experienced and if these problems varied between general practitioners (GPs), psychiatrists, orthopaedists and physicians working at other types of clinics.
A cross-sectional nationwide questionnaire study.
All physicians working in Sweden in 2008.
The 1554 physicians <65 years old, working in a clinical setting, having SCT and stating SCT to a great extent being a WEP.
Outcome measures
Frequency of possibly problematic situations or lack of time, reasons for sickness certifying unnecessarily long, experience of difficulties in contacts with sickness insurance offices, and severity of experienced problems.
In all, 79% of this group of physicians experienced SCT as problematic at least once weekly, significantly higher proportion among GPs (p<0.001) and psychiatrists (p=0.005). A majority (at most 68.3%) experienced lack of time daily, when handling SCT, the proportion being significantly higher among orthopaedists (p=0.003, 0.007 and 0.011 on three respective items about lack of time). Among psychiatrists, a significantly higher proportion (p<0.001) stated wanting a patient coordinator. Also, GPs agreed to a higher extent (p<0.001) to finding 14 different SCT tasks as ‘very problematic’.
The main problem among physicians who experience SCT to a great extent as a WEP was lack of time related to SCT. The proportion of physicians experiencing problems varied in many aspects significantly between the different work clinics; however, GPs were among the highest in most types of problems. The results indicate that measures for improving physicians' sickness certification practices should be focused on organisational as well as professional level and that the needs in these aspects differ between specialties.
Article summary
Article focus
A study of the minority of physicians who state sickness certification tasks to a great extent being a work environment problem.
What problems do these physicians experience in relation to sickness certification?
Do the experienced problems vary with type of work clinic/specialty?
Key messages
A vast majority of these physicians experienced daily lack of time when handling sickness certification tasks.
About half of these physicians found it very problematic to assess level of work incapacity, to manage the two roles as the patient's physician and as a medical expert, and to provide the Social Insurance Office with more extensive sickness certificates.
Measures for improving physicians' sickness certification practices should be focused on organisational as well as professional levels and might need to differ between specialties.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The study was based on a questionnaire sent to all 37 000 physicians in a whole country, and the response rate (61%) could be regarded as relatively high.
Only one question about work environment was included.
PMCID: PMC3293140  PMID: 22382120
13.  The Characteristics of Psychiatrists Disciplined by Professional Colleges in Canada 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50558.
The identification of health care professionals who are incompetent, impaired, exploitative or have criminal intent is important for public safety. It is unclear whether psychiatrists are more likely to commit medical misconduct offences than non-psychiatrists, and if the nature of these offences is different.
The aim of this study was to compare the characteristics of psychiatrists disciplined in Canada and the nature of their offences and disciplinary sentences for the ten years from 2000 through 2009 to other physicians disciplined during that timeframe.
Utilizing a retrospective cohort design, we constructed a database of all physicians disciplined by provincial licensing authorities in Canada for the ten years from 2000 through 2009. Demographic variables and information on type of misconduct violation and penalty imposed were also collected for each physician disciplined. We compared psychiatrists to non-psychiatrists for the various outcomes.
There were 82 (14%) psychiatrists of 606 physicians disciplined in Canada in the ten years from 2000 through 2009, double the national proportion of psychiatrists. Of those disciplined psychiatrists, 8 (9.6%) were women compared to 29% in the national cohort. A total of 5 (6%) psychiatrists committed at least two separate offenses, accounting for approximately 11% of the total violations. A higher proportion of psychiatrists were disciplined for sexual misconduct (OR 3.62 [95% Confidence Interval [CI] 2.45–5.34]), fraudulent behavior (OR 2.32 [95% CI 1.20–4.40]) and unprofessional conduct (OR 3.1 [95% CI 1.95–4.95]). As a result, psychiatrists had between 1.85–4.35 greater risk of having disciplinary penalties in almost all categories in comparison to other physicians.
Psychiatrists differ from non-psychiatrist physicians in the prevalence and nature of medical misconduct. Efforts to decrease medical misconduct by psychiatrists need to be conducted and systematically evaluated.
PMCID: PMC3509088  PMID: 23209779
14.  Psychiatrists' Attitudes toward Metabolic Adverse Events in Patients with Schizophrenia 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86826.
There is growing concern about the metabolic abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia.
The aim of this study was to assess the attitudes of psychiatrists toward metabolic adverse events in patients with schizophrenia.
A brief questionnaire was constructed to cover the following broad areas: the psychiatrists' recognition of the metabolic risk of antipsychotic therapy, pattern of monitoring patients for physical risks, practice pattern for physical risks, and knowledge of metabolic disturbance. In March 2012, the questionnaire was mailed to 8,482 psychiatrists who were working at hospitals belonging to the Japan Psychiatric Hospitals Association.
The overall response rate was 2,583/8,482 (30.5%). Of the respondents, 85.2% (2,200/2,581) reported that they were concerned about prescribing antipsychotics that have a risk of elevating blood sugar; 47.6% (1,201/2,524) stated that their frequency of monitoring patients under antipsychotic treatment was based on their own experiences; and only 20.6% (5,22/2,534) of respondents answered that the frequency with which they monitored their patients was sufficient to reduce the metabolic risks.
Psychiatrists practicing in Japan were generally aware and concerned about the metabolic risks for patients being treated with antipsychotics. Although psychiatrists should monitor their patients for metabolic abnormalities to balance these risks, a limited number of psychiatrists answered that the frequency with which they monitored patients to reduce the metabolic risks was sufficient. Promotion of the best practices of pharmacotherapy and monitoring is needed for psychiatrists treating patients with schizophrenia.
PMCID: PMC3900677  PMID: 24466260
15.  Women in psychiatry: A view from the Indian subcontinent 
Indian Journal of Psychiatry  2009;51(3):199-201.
Psychiatry has not been a preferred medical specialty for women in the Indian subcontinent unlike in the Western countries like USA, Canada or UK. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of women doctors in India choosing psychiatry as career.
Materials and Methods:
Information on women in psychiatry in the Indian subcontinent was collected using resources like PubMed, directories of the professional societies, websites of medical institues, souvenirs and scientific programme of various conferences and personal communication with psychiatrists, and the data about postgraduate trainees available with the authors' own institute.
Women psychiatrists constitute about 15% of total psychiatrists in India, out of whom only 10% are at a relatively senior level, and the most are young. The women psychiatrists are also in faculty positions in a number of medical schools and have held important positions in the Indian Psychiatric Society at different times.
Most of the women psychiatrists appear to be still at junior levels, having joined the profession relatively recently as compared to their male counterparts. The trend at increasing number of women psychiatrists in the Indian subcontinent is similar to the worldwide trends.
PMCID: PMC2772222  PMID: 19881048
Women; psychiatry; Indian subcontinent
16.  Psychiatrists′ work with sickness certification: frequency, experiences and severity of the certification tasks in a national survey in Sweden 
Many psychiatrists are involved in sickness certification of their patients; however, there is very limited knowledge about this aspect of their work. The objective of this study was to explore frequencies of problematic issues in the sickness certification tasks and experiences of severity regarding these problematic issues among psychiatrists.
A cross-sectional nationwide questionnaire study to all physicians in Sweden. The 579 specialists in psychiatry who answered the questionnaire, were under 65 years of age, worked mainly in psychiatric care, and had consultations involving sickness certification at least once a week were included.
The frequency of problematic sickness certification consultations a few times per year or more often was considered by 87.3% of the psychiatrists; 11.7% handle such cases at least once a week. A majority (60.9%) reported ‘not having enough time with the patient’ at least once a week. The psychiatrists had access to several categories of professionals in their daily work. More than one third certified unnecessarily long sick-leave periods at least once a month due to waiting times for Social Insurance Office investigations or for treatments or investigations within health care.
The majority found it problematic to assess the level and duration of work incapacity, but also other types of problems like unnecessarily long sick-leave periods due to different types of waiting times. The findings have implications for different kinds of organisational and managerial support and training in sickness certification issues, like guidance to assess the level and duration of work incapacity.
PMCID: PMC3480832  PMID: 23075202
Sickness certification; Psychiatry; Sick leave; Physician
17.  Prolonged Grief Disorder: Psychometric Validation of Criteria Proposed for DSM-V and ICD-11 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000121.
Holly Prigerson and colleagues tested the psychometric validity of criteria for prolonged grief disorder (PGD) to enhance the detection and care of bereaved individuals at heightened risk of persistent distress and dysfunction.
Bereavement is a universal experience, and its association with excess morbidity and mortality is well established. Nevertheless, grief becomes a serious health concern for a relative few. For such individuals, intense grief persists, is distressing and disabling, and may meet criteria as a distinct mental disorder. At present, grief is not recognized as a mental disorder in the DSM-IV or ICD-10. The goal of this study was to determine the psychometric validity of criteria for prolonged grief disorder (PGD) to enhance the detection and potential treatment of bereaved individuals at heightened risk of persistent distress and dysfunction.
Methods and Findings
A total of 291 bereaved respondents were interviewed three times, grouped as 0–6, 6–12, and 12–24 mo post-loss. Item response theory (IRT) analyses derived the most informative, unbiased PGD symptoms. Combinatoric analyses identified the most sensitive and specific PGD algorithm that was then tested to evaluate its psychometric validity. Criteria require reactions to a significant loss that involve the experience of yearning (e.g., physical or emotional suffering as a result of the desired, but unfulfilled, reunion with the deceased) and at least five of the following nine symptoms experienced at least daily or to a disabling degree: feeling emotionally numb, stunned, or that life is meaningless; experiencing mistrust; bitterness over the loss; difficulty accepting the loss; identity confusion; avoidance of the reality of the loss; or difficulty moving on with life. Symptoms must be present at sufficiently high levels at least six mo from the death and be associated with functional impairment.
The criteria set for PGD appear able to identify bereaved persons at heightened risk for enduring distress and dysfunction. The results support the psychometric validity of the criteria for PGD that we propose for inclusion in DSM-V and ICD-11.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Virtually everyone loses someone they love during their lifetime. Grief is an unavoidable and normal reaction to this loss. After the death of a loved one, bereaved people may feel sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, and despair. They may think constantly about the deceased person and about the events that led up to the person's death. They often have physical reactions to their loss—problems sleeping, for example—and they may become ill. Socially, they may find it difficult to return to work or to see friends and family. For most people, these painful emotions and thoughts gradually diminish, usually within 6 months or so of the death. But for a few people, the normal grief reaction lingers and becomes increasingly debilitating. Experts call this complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder (PGD). Characteristically, people with PGD have intrusive thoughts and images of the deceased person and a painful yearning for his or her presence. They may also deny their loss, feel desperately lonely and adrift, and want to die themselves.
Why Was This Study Done?
PGD is not currently recognized as a mental disorder although it meets the requirements for one given in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) and in the World Health Organization's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10thEdition (ICD-10). Before PGD can be recognized as a mental disorder (and included in DSM-V and ICD-11), bereavement and mental-health experts need to agree on standardized criteria for PGD. Such criteria would be useful because they would allow researchers and clinicians to identify risk factors for PGD and to find ways to prevent PGD. They would also help to ensure that people with PGD get appropriate treatments such as psychotherapy to help them change their way of thinking about their loss and re-engage with the world. Recently, a panel of experts agreed on a consensus list of symptoms for PGD. In this study, the researchers undertake a field trial to develop and evaluate algorithms (sets of rules) for diagnosing PGD based on these symptoms.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “item response theory” (IRT) to derive the most informative PGD symptoms from structured interviews of nearly 300 people who had recently lost a close family member. These interviews contained questions about the consensus list of symptoms; each participant was interviewed two or three times during the two years after their spouse's death. The researchers then used “combinatoric” analysis to identify the most sensitive and specific algorithm for the diagnosis of PGD. This algorithm specifies that a bereaved person with PGD must experience yearning (physical or emotional suffering because of an unfulfilled desire for reunion with the deceased) and at least five of nine additional symptoms. These symptoms (which include emotional numbness, feeling that life is meaningless, and avoidance of the reality of the loss) must persist for at least 6 months after the bereavement and must be associated with functional impairment. Finally, the researchers show that individuals given a diagnosis of PGD 6–12 months after a death have a higher subsequent risk of mental health and functional impairment than people not diagnosed with PGD.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings validate a set of symptoms and a diagnostic algorithm for PGD. Because most of the study participants were elderly women who had lost their husband, further validation is needed to check that these symptoms and algorithm also apply to other types of bereaved people such as individuals who have lost a child. For now, though, these findings support the inclusion of PGD in DSM-V and ICD-11 as a recognized mental disorder. Furthermore, the availability of a standardized way to diagnose PGD will help clinicians identify the minority of people who fail to adjust successfully to the loss of a loved one. Hopefully, by identifying these people and helping them to avoid the onset of PGD (perhaps by providing psychotherapy soon after a death) and/or providing better treatment for PGD, it should now be possible to reduce the considerable personal and societal costs associated with prolonged grief.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Stephen Workman
The Dana Farber Cancer Institute has a page describing its Center for Psycho-oncology and Palliative Care Research
The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists has a leaflet on bereavement (in English, Welsh, Urdu, and Chinese)
The US National Cancer Institute also has information about coping with bereavement for patients and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus has links to other information about bereavement (in English and Spanish)
The Journal of the American Medical Association has a patient page on abnormal grief
Harvard Medical School provides a short family health guide about complicated grief
Information on DSM-IV and ICD-10 is available
PMCID: PMC2711304  PMID: 19652695
18.  Are Psychiatrist Characteristics Associated With Postdischarge Suicide of Schizophrenia Patients? 
Schizophrenia Bulletin  2008;35(4):760-765.
Information on the relationship between characteristics of mental healthcare providers, including hospitals and psychiatrists, and postdischarge suicide is scanty. This study aims to identify the risk factors for suicide among schizophrenia patients in the 3-month postdischarge period. The study cohort comprised all patients with a principal diagnosis of schizophrenia discharged from psychiatric inpatient care from 2002 to 2004 who committed suicide within 90 days of discharge. The control cohort consisted of all surviving schizophrenia patients discharged from psychiatric inpatient care in the same period and were matched to cases for age, gender, and date of discharge. There were 87 and 348 cases in the study and control cohorts, respectively. For suicide cases, death most frequently occurred on the first day after leaving the hospital (16.1%). The adjusted hazard ratios for committing suicide during the 90-day postdischarge period were 2.639 times greater for patients without previous psychiatric admission than for those hospitalized more than 3 times in the year preceding the index hospitalization. The adjusted suicide hazard for schizophrenia patients treated by male psychiatrists was significantly higher than for patients treated by female psychiatrists, by a multiple of 5.117 (P = .032). The adjusted suicide hazard among patients treated by psychiatrists over age 44 years was 2.378 times (P = .043) that for patients treated by psychiatrists aged younger than 35 years. Risk factors related to psychiatric hospitalization, including number of psychiatric admissions in the previous year and length of stay, together with gender and age of the psychiatrist providing inpatient care, are identified.
PMCID: PMC2696368  PMID: 18281712
suicide; schizophrenia; postdischarge
19.  Systematic detection and multidisciplinary care of depression in older medical inpatients: a randomized trial 
Major depression is a frequent and serious disorder in older medical inpatients. Because the condition goes undetected and untreated in most of these patients, we conducted a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a strategy of systematic detection and multidisciplinary treatment of depression in this population.
Consecutive patients aged 65 years or more admitted to general medical services in a primary care hospital between October 1999 and November 2002 were screened for depression with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS) within 48 hours after admission. Patients found to have major depression were randomly allocated to receive the intervention or usual care. The intervention involved consultation and treatment by a psychiatrist and follow-up by a research nurse and the patient's family physician. Research assistants, blind to group allocation, collected data from the patients at enrolment and at 3 and 6 months later using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD), the Medical Outcomes 36-item Short Form (SF-36), the DIS, the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Older Americans Resources and Services (OARS) questionnaire to assess basic and instrumental activities of daily living (OARS-ADL and OARS-IADL) and the Rating Scale for Side Effects. Data on the severity of illness, length of hospital stay, health services and medication use, mortality and process of care were also collected. The primary outcome measures were the HAMD and SF-36.
Of 1500 eligible patients who were screened, 157 were found to have major depression and consented to participate (78 in the intervention group and 79 in the usual care group). At randomization, there were no clinically or statistically significant differences between the 2 groups. Sixty-four patients completed follow-up to 6 months, 57 withdrew, and 36 died. At 6 months, there were no clinically or statistically significant differences the 2 groups in HAMD or SF-36 scores or any of the secondary outcome measures.
We were unable to demonstrate that systematic detection and multidisciplinary care of depression was more beneficial than usual care for elderly medical inpatients.
PMCID: PMC1319344  PMID: 16330624
20.  The practice of child and adolescent psychiatry: a survey of early-career psychiatrists in Japan 
Child and adolescent psychiatry (CAP), a subspecialty of psychiatry in Japan, is facing a serious workforce shortage. To resolve this situation, the Japanese government has organized a task force and has been working to increase psychiatrists' clinical skills to improve care for children and adolescents with mental health problems. Using an online questionnaire system, the authors have conducted a survey to investigate the perceptions, experiences, and interests of early-career psychiatrists in CAP.
The subjects of this study were 182 psychiatrists in Japan whose individual clinical experiences did not exceed 15 years. The authors of this study created an online questionnaire system and e-mailed the URL and login password to all subjects. Respondents anonymously answered the questions. Most questions required an answer indicating a level of agreement scored on a nine-point scale. Responding to the questionnaire was considered to constitute consent, and all respondents' privacy was carefully protected.
The mean age and clinical psychiatric experience of the subjects were found to be 33.1 ± 4.5 years and 5.43 ± 3.5 years, respectively. On a nine-point scale (with nine being the highest), experience and interest in CAP measured 3.05 ± 1.9 and 5.34 ± 2.5, respectively; further, these two factors showed significant correlation (r = 0.437, p < 0.0001). The mean score for the early-career psychiatrists' confidence in their ability to diagnose and appropriately treat was notably low, at 3.13 ± 1.9.
Our results demonstrated that early-career psychiatrists self-evaluated their CAP clinical experience as insufficient, and these clinicians' CAP experiences and interests correlated significantly. Therefore, in order to improve child and adolescent medical care, we need to expose young psychiatrists to sufficient CAP cases and explore the factors that could attract them to this field.
PMCID: PMC2761856  PMID: 19785745
21.  CME for Child Psychiatrists: Recommendations for Learners, Planners and Presenters 
Medical school and residency are only the beginning of a child psychiatrist’s education. For the rest of her/his career, a child psychiatrist will need to learn on an ongoing basis. There will always be new understandings, new treatments, new issues to master. Child psychiatrists will always need to further their knowledge, develop new skills, and improve existing skills. For these reasons at very least, all child psychiatrists will need to participate in Continuing Medical Education (CME) activities. Many child psychiatrists will also be involved in the design and delivery of these CME activities. In both cases, understanding more about the effectiveness of CME will be important to the decisions they make.
This article itself is not a systematic review of the literature, but it will highlight some of the important findings from existing systematic reviews of the CME literature. Based on these findings, the article will make recommendations for both child psychiatrists as learners and child psychiatrists as CME presenters.
As learners, child psychiatrists need to be able to select CME activities that are most likely to lead to improvements in their practices. As planners and presenters, child psychiatrists need to design and deliver CME activities that are most likely to improve the practices of their target audiences. However, not all child psychiatrists have the time to review the CME literature in addition to reviewing the other bodies of literature relevant to their practices.
Thus, the purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the key findings in the CME literature, focusing on the effectiveness of CME.
PMCID: PMC2247420  PMID: 18421367
continuing medical education; CME; formation médicale continue
22.  Services Provided by Volunteer Psychiatrists after 9/11 at the New York City Family Assistance Center: September 12--November 20, 2001 
Journal of psychiatric practice  2010;16(3):193-199.
To characterize the experience of volunteer disaster psychiatrists who provided pro bono psychiatric services to 9/11 survivors in New York City, from September 12, 2001 to November 20, 2001.
Disaster Psychiatry Outreach (DPO) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to provide volunteer psychiatric care to people affected by disasters and to promote education and research in support of this mission. Data for this study were collected from one-page clinical encounter forms completed by 268 DPO psychiatrists for 2 months after 9/11 concerning 848 patients served by the DPO 9/11 response program at the New York City Family Assistance Center.
In this endeavor, 268 psychiatrist volunteers evaluated 848 individuals and provided appropriate interventions. The most commonly recorded clinical impressions indicated stress-related and adjustment disorders, but other conditions such as bereavement, major depression, and substance abuse/dependence were also observed. Free samples were available for one sedative and one anxiolytic agent; not surprisingly, these were the most commonly prescribed medications. Nearly half of those evaluated received psychotropic medications.
In the acute aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, volunteer psychiatrists were able to provide services in a disaster response setting, in which they were co-located with other disaster responders. These services included psychiatric assessment, provision of medication, psychological first aid, and referrals for ongoing care. Although systematic diagnoses could not be confirmed, the fact that most patients were perceived to have a psychiatric diagnosis and a substantial proportion received psychotropic medication, suggests potential specific roles for psychiatrists that are unique and different from roles of other mental health professionals in the early post-disaster setting. In addition to further characterizing post-disaster mental health needs and patterns of service provision, future research should focus on the short- and long-term effects of psychiatric interventions, such as providing acute psychotropic medication services and assessing the effectiveness of traditional acute post-disaster interventions including crisis counseling and psychological first aid.
PMCID: PMC3086595  PMID: 20485109
disaster psychiatry; trauma; posttraumatic stress disorder; psychiatric services; terrorism; crisis counseling; psychological first aid; mental health outreach
23.  Attitudes toward depression among Japanese non-psychiatric medical doctors: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:441.
Under-recognition of depression is common in many countries. Education of medical staff, focusing on their attitudes towards depression, may be necessary to change their behavior and enhance recognition of depression. Several studies have previously reported on attitudes toward depression among general physicians. However, little is known about attitudes of non-psychiatric doctors in Japan. In the present study, we surveyed non-psychiatric doctors’ attitude toward depression.
The inclusion criteria of participants in the present study were as follows: 1) Japanese non-psychiatric doctors and 2) attendees in educational opportunities regarding depression care. We conveniently approached two populations: 1) a workshop to depression care for non-psychiatric doctors and 2) a general physician-psychiatrist (G-P) network group. We contacted 367 subjects. Attitudes toward depression were measured using the Depression Attitude Questionnaire (DAQ), a 20-item self-report questionnaire developed for general physicians. We report scores of each DAQ item and factors derived from exploratory factor analysis.
We received responses from 230 subjects, and we used DAQ data from 187 non-psychiatric doctors who met the inclusion criteria. All non-psychiatric doctors (n = 187) disagreed with "I feel comfortable in dealing with depressed patients' needs," while 60 % (n = 112) agreed with "Working with depressed patients is heavy going." Factor analysis indicated these items comprised a factor termed "Depression should be treated by psychiatrists" - to which 54 % of doctors (n = 101) agreed. Meanwhile, 67 % of doctors (n = 126) thought that nurses could be useful in depressed patient support. The three factors derived from the Japanese DAQ differed from models previously derived from British GP samples. The attitude of Japanese non-psychiatric doctors concerning whether depression should be treated by psychiatrists was markedly different to that of British GPs.
Japanese non-psychiatric doctors believe that depression care is beyond the scope of their duties. It is suggested that educational programs or guidelines for depression care developed in other countries such as the UK are not directly adaptable for Japanese non-psychiatric doctors. Developing a focused educational program that motivates non-psychiatric doctors to play a role in depression care is necessary to enhance recognition and treatment of depression in Japan.
PMCID: PMC3434090  PMID: 22894761
California Medicine  1955;83(6):435-440.
The one approach most favored for alcoholism by psychiatrists in Southern California who answered a questionnaire is membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. Ninety-nine per cent of them approved Alcoholics Anonymous, and 80 per cent had referred patients to the organization. Yet they believed only 10 per cent of the persons who join A.A. remain sober for over two years. This against the claim of A.A. that 60 per cent or more of their fellowship are recovered emphasized the pessimism of the psychiatrists questioned.
Ninety per cent of the psychiatrists who replied said they do not treat alcoholics or that they limit the number or the type they will accept for treatment. They obtain recovery, they said, of 10 per cent of patients, improvement of 50 per cent, and the rest are unchanged.
The emphasis in psychiatry is on elimination of the anxieties leading to alcoholism; in Alcoholics Anonymous the emphasis is on the strength to bear these anxieties. Ninety per cent of the replies received were in favor of clinics for alcoholics, and the respondents felt that governmental agencies should support these clinics. Under such circumstances psychiatrists would combine their abilities with psychologists, social workers and Alcoholics Anonymous. Thirty-five per cent of psychiatrists said they are willing to work in a clinic, the majority without recompense.
PMCID: PMC1532624  PMID: 13270110
25.  Psychiatric referrals within the hospital--the communication process. 
This two part study examined the written communication between psychiatrists and other hospital doctors. In the first part a set of sample letters from a psychiatrist, who had seen a ward referral, was sent to 110 physicians and surgeons. Nearly half expressed a preference for a psychiatrist's letter that was one page long with main points underlined. Clarity of psychiatric diagnosis and opinion and clear treatment/follow-up arrangements were the key items of content. In the second part 100 consecutive referral letters and their replies were assessed; 20% of referral letters did not express the precise reason why psychiatric opinion was sought and many of the psychiatrists' replies did not describe adequately the follow-up arrangements and prognosis. In general the psychiatrist found the referral letters short and lacking in information whereas referring doctors found the brief replies from the psychiatrists preferable because the brief letters contained the key items mentioned in the first part of the study. In addition to these recommendations regarding written communications, this study emphasizes the need for personal discussion between psychiatrists and other hospital doctors; nearly half the doctors in the first part of the study thought this would be essential for good management of the patient.
PMCID: PMC1292611  PMID: 2342039

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