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Keywords:

  • migraine;
  • treatment of physician's family members;
  • self-prescribing;
  • self-treatment;
  • physician;
  • neurologist

Background.—Although neurologists commonly self-treat for migraine and other conditions, little is known about the patterns of self-treatment by physicians in the United States.

Objectives.—The aim was to obtain information about neurologist's self-treatment and treatment of family members and their attitudes about self-treatment by other physicians.

Methods.—A survey was performed among neurologists attending the Texas Neurological Society's Winter Conference using a questionnaire about self-treatment and treatment of family members during the prior 12 months and attitudes about self-treatment by other physicians.

Results.—Among 186 physicians invited to participate, the response rate was 48%. Although 76% reported having primary care physicians, neurologists reported the following behaviors: 38% self-diagnosed or self-treated medical conditions including migraine in 25%; 56% started themselves on prescription medications including 21% who used triptans and 15% who used migraine preventive medications; 33% ordered blood tests on themselves; and 20% ordered imaging studies on themselves. Sixty percent reported missing no work due to illness, 87% missed 2 days or less, and 99% reported missing 1 week or less. Eighty percent reported treating their family members for acute minor illnesses and 33% for chronic conditions. The following percentage of participants reported that they would be likely to self-diagnose and self-treat the following hypothetical illnesses: 70%, migraines which were not severe; 19%, new onset frequent headaches; and 48%, chronic daily headaches. The following percentage of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the following behaviors were acceptable for physicians: 94%, self-treat acute minor illnesses; 37%, self-treat chronic conditions; 42%, order blood test for diagnostic purposes; 40%, order imaging studies for diagnostic purposes; 87%, treat family members for acute minor conditions; and 36%, treat family members for chronic conditions.

Conclusions.—Neurologists commonly treat themselves and family members.