The meagerness of physicians' training in emergency psychiatric intervention

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This study was undertaken to determine how much training physicians receive in emergency psychiatric intervention (EPI) during their residency programs. In 1988 the author mailed a questionnaire to 256 program directors of residencies in the major nonpsychiatry specialties. A total of 236 (92%) responded. Their responses indicate that emergency medicine and family practice residency programs provide the most training in EPI, followed by pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics-gynecology, and surgery. But overall, EPI training was meager. The findings indicate that 75% of the programs never assigned EPI-oriented readings to the residents and 70% of the programs never gave lectures or seminars on that subject. The author concludes that EPI skills are frequently absent in current medical practice because physicians have not been taught these skills; he recommends that more training is essential and indicates what it might consist of.

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