Integral Treatment Programme for Addicted Physicians: Results from The Galatea Care Programme for Sick Physicians

Eur Addict Res. 2020;26(3):122-130. doi: 10.1159/000505914. Epub 2020 Feb 19.


Introduction: Addictions among physicians are a matter of public health interest because of their negative impact on the physician's well-being and the potential risk of malpractice. Physicians' Health Programmes (PHP) have been developed in several countries to address this issue. Although they share some similarities, they differ in organisational and clinical aspects.

Objective: This study aimed to describe the clinical outcomes of the Integral Treatment Programme for Addicted Physicians of The Galatea Care Programme for Sick Physicians (PAIMM).

Methods: A prospective naturalistic longitudinal study was conducted using data from electronic medical records of 126 physicians registered at the Barcelona Medical Association-Council and admitted to the PAIMM between 2008 and 2016. All patients received addiction treatment supervised by a specialised team with individual visits (psychiatrist and psychologist), had regular and random drug screening, attended a 3-step intervention with 2 intensive initial phases and 2-5 year weekly group psychotherapy, and were monitored when they returned to practice.

Results: All admitted physicians completed the intensive intervention, and 87.3% were subsequently monitored. The mean treatment length was 48 months. Overall, 72.2% of sick physicians remained abstinent at last contact. Good adherence to follow-up psychotherapy groups predicted both lower risk of lapse during the treatment process and higher rates of abstinence at follow-up.

Conclusions: Initial intensive treatment, long-term follow-up and drug screening, group therapy attendance, and a case management approach are common factors that may explain the positive clinical outcomes for physicians with addictions in treatment at PHPs, regardless of the country.

Keywords: Abstinence; Addictions; Malpractice; Physician health programmes; Physicians.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Confidentiality
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Spain
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*