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May 6, 1992

Physician, Cherish ThyselfThe Hazards of Self-prescribing

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH.

JAMA. 1992;267(17):2373-2374. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480170099038

The report by Hughes et al1 on the prevalence of substance use among US physicians helps to rescue our knowledge of the matter both from fantasy and from parochialism. The authors sent questionnaires to a random sample of 9600 US physicians and they made an effort to analyze their results in terms of gender, age, region of the country, and the type of drug use. To obtain similar stratified results from the population as a whole, the authors took advantage of comparable data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse's National Household Survey of Drug Abuse. The study represents a methodological advance over prior efforts to assess doctors' misuse of mood-altering agents, and the findings allow us to estimate trends of drug use and drug abuse among different physician cohorts.

See also p 2333.

Surprisingly, the fact that Hughes et al obtained only a 59% questionnaire completion rate may