Psychiatric residents' experience conducting disability evaluations

Acad Psychiatry. May-Jun 2010;34(3):211-5. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.34.3.211.


Objective: The increasing frequency and societal cost of psychiatric disability underscore the need for accuracy in evaluating patients who seek disability benefits. The authors investigated senior psychiatric residents' experiences performing disability evaluations, their self-assessment of competence for this task, and whether they perceived a need for more training.

Methods: Seventy-nine third- and fourth-year psychiatric residents in Massachusetts and Rhode Island training programs were surveyed from May to June in 2008. Participants were asked about the frequency of requests and completion of disability evaluations, the practice patterns followed when performing evaluations, the identification of role and potential conflict of interest in doing evaluations, and their sense of preparedness and need for more training.

Results: Residents reported having limited experience performing disability evaluations and followed a variety of practice patterns when performing evaluations. They reported having a limited understanding of what constitutes psychiatric disability and a lack of confidence in their ability to perform evaluations accurately. A significant minority had identified patients as disabled despite believing otherwise. A majority of residents reported receiving no didactics on psychiatric disability and desired more training.

Conclusion: Residents may be unprepared to perform disability evaluations. Residency programs may need to provide additional training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Psychiatry / education*