Substance-impaired physicians - Probationary and voluntary treatment programs compared

Heidi D. Nelson, Annette M. Matthews, Donald E. Girard, Joseph D. Bloom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We compared the characteristics and treatment outcomes of substance- impaired physicians monitored by two different programs in Oregon: a probationary program administered by the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners and the confidential, voluntary Diversion Program for Health Professionals. Demographic, substance use, and treatment outcome variables were obtained by a retrospective medical record review from 41 physicians monitored by the Oregon board and 56 physicians monitored by the diversion program during a 3- year study period. Compared with physicians monitored by the Oregon board, physicians in the diversion program were younger, more likely to be in training programs and less likely to be in hospital-based practice settings, more often reported by immediate rather than third-party contacts, more likely to choose in-state inpatient treatment than out-of-state treatment, and less likely to have concurrent mental illness diagnoses (P < .05 for all comparisons). Short-term relapse rates did not differ statistically between the groups (22.0% for the Oregon board group, 14.3% for the diversion program group). The higher number of younger physicians and physicians in training and tendency toward increased reporting by immediate contacts in the diversion program suggested earlier intervention than in the Oregon board group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalWestern Journal of Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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