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November 1992

Physicians' Attitudes Toward Mandatory Workplace Urine Drug Testing

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, (Drs Lemon and Alguire), and the Ingham County Health Department, Lansing, Mich (Dr Sienko). Dr Lemon is now a Cancer Prevention Fellow with the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(11):2238-2242. doi:10.1001/archinte.1992.00400230056009

Background.—  Workplace drug testing programs are being increasingly implemented in both the public and private sectors, and health care workers are unlikely to be excluded from such testing.

Methods.—  A survey of attending physicians' attitudes toward mandatory hospital-based urine drug testing was undertaken in a medium-sized, midwestern county.

Results.—  Seventy-four percent (272/368) of the sample responded. Seventy-two percent of the subjects believed physician drug use to be a minor or nonexistent problem, 38% lacked confidence in the testing procedure, and 60% believed that testing infringed on the physician's right to privacy; yet 87% would submit to testing if required by a hospital. Forty-five percent of respondents agreed with the policy of mandatory testing for physicians with hospital privileges, 34% disagreed, and 21% were uncertain. Respondents were more supportive of mandatory testing of other health care and non—health care occupations than for themselves. Support for testing was greatest for illicit drugs. If implemented, physicians preferred mandatory testing to be performed by hospital medical staff independent of hospital administration.

Conclusions.—  Further education and discussion within the physician community appears to be necessary before widespread mandatory workplace urine drug testing of physicians is implemented.(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:2238-2242)

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