Comparing substance use monitoring and treatment variations among physician health programs

Am J Addict. 2012 Jul-Aug;21(4):327-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2012.00239.x. Epub 2012 Apr 23.


There is growing evidence that physician health programs (PHPs) are an important component in physicians' recovery from substance disorders, although we do not know how variations in treatment and monitoring affect physician recovery. This study was designed to understand how programmatic differences impact clients' overall program completion. This study was part of a larger investigation, the Blueprint Project, which evaluated outcomes for clients enrolled in PHPs nationally. Here we compared physicians presenting to a Colorado-based PHP for substance use to a nationally based referent, contrasting treatment, monitoring, and outcomes (Colorado n = 72, National n = 730). The samples were similar demographically although more Colorado physicians were polysubstance users. We found variations in treatment and monitoring patterns with Colorado physicians participating in more types of primary treatment and monitoring services and were allowed to work more at some point during monitoring. There was greater relapse among Colorado physicians, but these differences disappeared when we controlled for prior treatment. The great majority of clients in both samples showed successful recovery. This data provides a foundation on which to understand population characteristics, contractual differences, and outcome variations among PHPs and serves to inform internal PHP programmatic structures and regulatory agencies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare
  • Colorado
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Health Services / standards*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Physician Impairment*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • United States