Barriers and facilitators to seek help for substance use disorder among Dutch physicians: A qualitative study
Number of pages
SourceEuropean Addiction Research, 28, 1, (2022), pp. 23-32
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
SW OZ BSI KLP
European Addiction Research
SubjectDevelopmental Psychopathology; Experimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
Introduction: Substance use disorders (SUDs) among physicians affect their health, quality of life, but potentially also their quality of care. Despite the availability of effective specific Physician Health Programs (PHPs), physicians with SUD often experience barriers when seeking professional help. Therefore, we studied barriers and facilitators when seeking help for SUD among physicians from a multiple perspective approach. Methods: A qualitative design was adopted for 2 sub-studies. First, answers of 2 open-ended questions (about anticipated barriers and facilitators) of an existing questionnaire were analyzed. This questionnaire was filled out by 1,685 general physicians (response rate = 47%). The answers of these open-ended questions were coded inductively. Second, 21 semi-structured interviews (about experienced barriers and facilitators) were performed with physician SUD-patients, significant others, and PHP employees. Themes identified in the first sub-study were used to deductively code the interview transcripts. Results were reported in accordance with the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research guidelines. Results: Barriers were found at the level of the individual physician (negative feelings and lack of disease awareness), whereas facilitators were found at the level of social relationships (confrontation with SUD and social support) and health services (supportive approach, good accessibility, and positive image of services). The interviews emphasized the importance of nonjudgmental confrontation by social relationships in the process of seeking help for SUD. Conclusion: Physicians with SUD face barriers when seeking help for SUD mostly at the level of the individual physician. Health services and people around physicians with SUD could facilitate the help-seeking process by offering confidential and nonpunitive support. Future studies should explore whether the barriers and facilitators identified in this study also hold for other mental health issues.
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