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Original Contribution  |   September 1999
Perceptions and reported practices of osteopathic physicians in diagnosing and treating addiction
Article Information
Original Contribution   |   September 1999
Perceptions and reported practices of osteopathic physicians in diagnosing and treating addiction
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, September 1999, Vol. 99, 461-469. doi:10.7556/jaoa.1999.99.9.461
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, September 1999, Vol. 99, 461-469. doi:10.7556/jaoa.1999.99.9.461
Abstract

The objective of this study was to assess the perceptions and reported practices of osteopathic physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of addiction. Copies of survey questions were sent to the 344 members of the West Virginia Osteopathic Society. A total of 176 (51.2%) physicians responded; of these responses, 166 surveys were used for analysis. Respondents included 130 practicing physicians and 36 physicians in internship or residency training programs. Of those responding, 133 were men and 33 were women, and ages ranged from 24 to 81 years with a mean of 41.6 years. Respondents who were graduates of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine numbered 132 (79.5%), and 99 (59.6%) were in family practice. Characteristics most commonly attributed to addiction were a chronic nature and psychological or physical dependence. More than half of the test subjects did not consider addiction to be a primary disease independent of other factors or psychiatric conditions. Respondents reported a mean addiction prevalence of 20.4%, with the most common substances reported as tobacco, alcohol, and benzodiazapines, respectively. Individual prevalence reports varied from 0% to 95% (SD ± 20.4%). The most commonly used diagnostic tools were the CAGE (Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye-opener) test, DSM III-R (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition, revised) or DSM-N (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition) criteria, and quantity and frequency questions. Medical sequelae such as jaundice or emphysema were the most likely reasons for the respondents to address a substance abuse problem. For referral resources, respondents were most likely to use inpatient or outpatient treatment. A mean success rate of 27.7% was reported by the 133 physicians responding. The wide variance in reported prevalence and the low success rate reported in comparison to that demonstrated in published treatment studies indicate that there is a need for further education of both physicians in training and those presently in practice. Medical sequelae are frequently irreversible signs of late-stage addiction, and physicians should be urged to include such tools as the CAGE test in each regular physical to facilitate earlier intervention.