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Physicians' Attitudes Toward AIDS at Different Career Stages: A Comparison of Internists and Surgeons

Michael J. Yedidia, Judith K. Barr and Carolyn A. Berry
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 272-284
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137207
Page Count: 13
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Physicians' Attitudes Toward AIDS at Different Career Stages: A Comparison of Internists and Surgeons
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Abstract

Physicians' responses to AIDS at different career stages and in different specialties were studied by surveying house staff (N = 438), faculty (N = 363), and applicants (N = 487) at six residency programs in internal medicine and six in surgery. House staff had more negative outlooks than senior medical students and faculty, reporting greater fear of exposure to AIDS and greater unwillingness to treat AIDS patients. Surgeons were more negative than internists on these dimensions. For all groups, concern about possible negative educational consequences of treating AIDS patients was largely a function of their amount of contact with AIDS patients. Comparing willingness to treat AIDS and nine other conditions, AIDS consistently ranked low, along with Alzheimer's disease, alcoholism, and drug dependency. The findings have practical implications for hospitals and training programs. In addition, they raise issues concerning the impact of training on professional socialization, and call into question physicians' commitment to the professional norm of treating all patients regardless of provider self-interest, patient social characteristics, or medical uncertainty.

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