Impairment of physicians' ability

Other Names:
Ill-health of doctors

Physicians are exposed to a variety of diseases and hazards of infection. As an occupational disease, however, heart conditions are most associated with the profession, and usually explained as due to its stresses. Less well-known are physicians' mental disorders. Physicians' ill-health may disqualify them from some kinds of medical practice.


In the USA among male doctors who died aged 39 or less, a study showed that 28% were suicides; English, Canadian and Danish physician statistics show high suicide rates as well. In Australia it has been estimated in the medical journal of that country that two to four percent of all doctors commit suicide. A Harvard University study of New England physicians showed that 17% of doctors had been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, 35% used mind and mood altering drugs such as tranquillizers regularly, and over 30% had consulted psychiatrists for personal help. Drug addiction studies in France, Holland, Germany and the UK indicate that physicians comprise 17% of drug abusers, with nurses and pharmacists comprising another 15%. American Medical Association statistics estimate that 6% of all American physicians are significantly impaired by addiction to drugs or alcohol. Regarding moral impairment, a survey in the American Journal of Psychiatry reported that 13% of the male physicians studied indicated that they had erotic behaviour with their patients.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST