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March 7, 1986

Emotional Impairment in Internal Medicine House StaffResults of a National Survey

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine (Drs Smith and Denny) and the Office of Medical Education (Dr Witzke), University of Arizona, Tucson.

JAMA. 1986;255(9):1155-1158. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370090077024

A questionnaire was sent to all internal medicine program directors who were members of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine to identify the scope of the problem of debilitating emotional impairment in internal medicine house staff for each of the five years 1979 through 1984; 63% of the questionnaires were returned. During these five years, 55.5% of internal medicine training programs granted leaves of absence to medical residents because of emotional impairment; an average of 0.9% of internal medicine house staff required leaves of absence, with the rate twice as common in female residents. Most impaired residents recovered and apparently did well, for 79% continued in medicine. However, 10% completely dropped out of medicine and 2% had a successful suicide; an additional 3% attempted suicide unsuccessfully.

(JAMA 1986;255:1155-1158)