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Research Letter
May 18, 2021

Consistency Between State Medical License Applications and Recommendations Regarding Physician Mental Health

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
  • 2The Emotional PPE Project Inc, Arlington, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA. 2021;325(19):2017-2018. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.2275

Physicians have higher rates of depression, burnout, and suicide than the general population.1 Despite this, physicians infrequently seek mental health care, consistently citing fear of negative ramifications for licensing.2,3 State medical license applications often ask broad questions about mental health history or its hypothetical effect on competency, even though asking violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. In states with license applications that ask such questions, physicians are more reluctant to seek help.4