Physician May Be Reluctant to Seek Mental Health Care Due to Licensure Application Questions

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Nearly 40% of physician respondents reported that they would be reluctant to seek formal medical care.
Nearly 40% of physician respondents reported that they would be reluctant to seek formal medical care.

HealthDay News — Medical licensure application questions (MLAQs) regarding mental health contribute to physicians' reluctance to seek help for mental health, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Liselotte N. Dyrbye, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and colleagues evaluated data from initial and renewal medical licensure application forms from 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as results from a survey of a nationally representative convenience sample of 5829 physicians regarding care-seeking attitudes.

The researchers found that only one-third of states currently have MLAQs about mental health on their initial and renewal application forms that are considered consistent (defined as inquiring only about current impairment from a mental health condition or did not ask about mental health conditions). 

Nearly 40% of physician respondents (2325) reported that they would be reluctant to seek formal medical care for treatment of a mental health condition because of concerns about repercussions to their medical licensure. Reluctance was more likely among physicians working in a state in which neither the initial nor the renewal application was consistent (odds ratio, 1.21; P =.002 versus both applications consistent).

"Our findings support that MLAQs regarding mental health conditions present a barrier to physicians seeking help," the authors write.

Reference

Dyrbye LN, West CP, Sinsky CA, Goeders LE, Satele DV, Shanafelt TD. Medical licensure questions and physician reluctance to seek care for mental health conditions. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(10):1486-1493. 



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