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October 10, 1977

Physicians' Attitudes Toward Chemically Dependent Patients

JAMA. 1977;238(15):1629-1630. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280160023010

To the Editor. —  In their recent discus-sion of physician attitudes (237:23182319, 1977), Chappel and Schnoll appropriately call attention to the traditionally negative attitude shown by many physicians toward the chemically dependent patient. Unfortunately, this has become a sort of rallying cry by many paraprofessionals and the public at large, who have tended to use the medical profession as a scapegoat, regarding it as the main stumbling block in our society's inability to cope satisfactorily with this rather immense and pervasive problem.What is not as well known, however, is the apparently changing attitudes of many medical practitioners. In an attitudinal survey of 665 Midwest physicians,1 87% of whom were engaged in family practice, we were pleasantly surprised at their relatively positive attitude toward alcoholism and alcoholic patients. Although continuing to be pessimistic about the overall outcome in treating alcoholics, the majority think of alcoholism now as being treatable