Physicians' Beliefs about the Nature of Addiction: A Survey of Primary Care Physicians and Psychiatrists


Journal Article

Background and Objectives: Society debates whether addiction is a disease, a response to psychological woundedness, or moral failing. Method: We surveyed a national sample of 1427 US primary care physicians (PCPs) and 487 psychiatrists, asking "In your judgment, to what extent is alcoholism/drug addiction each of the following? A) a disease B) a response to psychological woundedness C) a result of moral failings." Results: The response rate was 63% for PCPs and 64% for psychiatrists. More psychiatrists than PCPs consider addiction a disease (64% versus 56%). Some PCPs (31%) and psychiatrists (27%) attribute addiction to psychological woundedness. More psychiatrists than PCPs said addiction is "not at all" due to moral failings (55% versus 39%). Conclusions and Scientific Significance: The disease model for addiction is prominent among physicians, but exists alongside beliefs that addiction is a response to psychological woundedness, or a result of moral failings. © American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lawrence, RE; Rasinski, KA; Yoon, JD; Curlin, FA

Published Date

  • March 8, 2013

Published In

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1521-0391

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1055-0496

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.00332.x

Citation Source

  • Scopus