Demographic and Practice Characteristics of Psychiatrists Who Primarily Treat Patients with Substance Use Disorders

Published in: American Journal on Addictions, v. 12, no. 3, May-Jun. 2003, p. 181-192

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2003

by Ivan D. Montoya, Diane M. Herbeck, Dace S. Svikis, Diana J. Fitek, Steven C. Marcus, Harold Alan Pincus

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This study examined the sociodemographic and practice characteristics of psychiatrists whose caseloads consist primarily of patients with Substance Use Disorders (SUD). A survey instrument was completed by a random sample of 865 psychiatrists. Study groups were defined as high-SUD providers if psychiatrists reported having 51% or more patients with SUD (n=92) and non-SUD providers as those who reported not having any patients with SUD (n=128). High-SUD providers tended to be younger, more likely to graduate from international medical schools, have larger caseloads, work more hours per week, and have a higher proportion of inpatients and publicly funded patients than non-SUD providers. Results suggest that psychiatrists who primarily treat patients with SUD are in their early careers and treat patients with more clinical, psychosocial, and economic disadvantages. The implications of these findings for psychiatry training programs and policy makers will be discussed.

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