Stalking by Patients: Doctors’ Experiences in a Canadian Urban Area (Part II)—Physician Responses

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Abstract

Stalking involves recurrent unwanted communication, harassment, and intrusive behaviors. The aim of this study was to examine physicians’ experiences of being stalked by their patients, with particular attention to the emotional impact on the physicians and their actions taken. A questionnaire designed to study the nature and the impact of stalking experiences among physicians was sent to 3159 randomly chosen physicians in the Greater Toronto Area. Approximately 15% (14.9%) of the 1190 physicians who responded reported having been stalked. The physicians reported feeling angry, frustrated, anxious, frightened, lacking control, and helpless. The physicians coped in a number of ways including terminating the physician-patient relationship, but many just ignored the problem. Most had no previous knowledge about stalking. Physicians experience a range of emotions as a result of being a victim of stalking. In view of the prevalence and the impact, physicians may benefit from education to help prepare them for the possibility of being stalked.

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