To Commit or Not to Commit: The Psychiatry Resident as a Variable in Involuntary Commitment Decisions

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Abstract

Objective

To study whether psychiatry residents' personal variables (such as age, gender, level of training, previous experience with patient suicide, or lawsuits) and their temperamental predispositions have an impact on their decisions to seek involuntary commitment.

Method

In a prospective pilot study, all psychiatry residents in Massachusetts were surveyed using a questionnaire that assessed their risk-taking behavior and clinical vignettes of patients with risk of harm to self or others. Data were analyzed using chi-squares and t tests.

Results

Level of training and the residents' risk-taking behavior may be linked to their likelihood to seek involuntary commitment.

Conclusions

Psychiatric residency training should address nonpatient variables that might inappropriately influence the residents' decisions to seek involuntary commitment.

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