More than 20% of physicians say they have been stalked by a current or former patient, according to a survey presented at the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting.
In an online survey, Penn State University Medical Center researchers asked 597 physicians and residents at two Pennsylvania hospitals about their experiences with 10 patient stalking behaviors:
Based on the responses, the researchers found that:
According to the surveyed physicians, the most common stalking behaviors in patients are unsolicited phone calls, letters, faxes, and emails. Meanwhile, unwanted personal approaches and loitering were among the least common behaviors.
Who stalks physicians
The survey found no clear pattern in patients' motivations for stalking. Altogether, the survey found that only 40% of stalked physicians thought their stalker was mentally ill. It also found that:
Which physicians are stalked
The survey found that male and female physicians report stalking at about the same rate, although female doctors mostly reported male stalkers while men reported being stalked by men and women equally.
No specialty was particularly prone to stalking in the survey.
About 11% of the survey respondents said they considered quitting as a result of stalking, and 7% said they considered changing specialties.
The survey also found that:
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