Substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic relapsing disease with multiple general health and behavior deterioration making it vulnerable to discrimination. As health care professionals play a crucial role in the identification and feasibility of access to treatment of such patients, negative attitudes can reduce the quality of the medical service provided. The purpose of our study is to measure and compare stigma variables toward SUDs among different professions of the health care staff.
Patients and Methods:
In all, 300 participants were enrolled in the study distributed equally into physicians from different specialties, nurses, clerical work employees, manual workers, and early career medical interns. A predesigned semistructured sheet was used to screen the occupation, previous contact SUD cases, family history of substance use problems; they also answered the general health questionnaire, and 4 scales concerning the attitude toward addicts including the level of familiarity, perceived dangerousness, and fear, social distance scales.
Women showed higher perceived dangerousness and desired social distance from polysubstance use disorder than men. Social distance was significantly more away from polysubstance in staff below the age of 30 years, and from alcohol in the group above 30 years. The level of familiarity with and a desired social distance away from polysubstance abuse among physicians were significant. There was a highly significant fear of benzodiazepine, tramadol, and polysubstance among physicians. Perceived dangerousness for polysubstance among physicians was significantly evident as well as for alcohol among manual workers, for benzodiazepine among house officers, and for heroin among clerical workers.
Stigma of medical field professionals toward patients with SUDs is common and may contribute to underqualified health care service for these patients, which mandates dissemination of model educational programs starting from college medical curricula to postgraduate ones.