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Perceptions of Patients by Emergency Room Staff: Substance-Abusers versus Non-Substance-Abusers

Lois Biener
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 1983), pp. 264-275
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136576
Page Count: 12
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Perceptions of Patients by Emergency Room Staff: Substance-Abusers versus Non-Substance-Abusers
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Abstract

Studies suggest that health care providers' evaluation of patients is related to aspects of the presenting problem, i.e., its seriousness, curability, and rarity; the extent to which the problem was self-caused; and to aspects of the patients, i.e., their age, social distance from providers and cooperativeness. Analysis of 220 emergency room staff members' perceptions of 14 hypothetical patients showed that with the exception of rarity of problem and social distance, the tested factors were significantly related to ratings of rewardingness of patient encounters. Results indicated that predictors of reward derived from substance-abusing and non-substance-abusing patients were different. While seriousness of illness was the primary predictor with non-substance-abusers, perceived cooperativeness was primary with substance-abusers. Predictors of rewarding patient encounters also differed according to staff level. Implications of these differences for emergency treatment of substance-abusers is discussed.

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