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The Attitudes of Students and House Staff Toward Alcoholism

Frederick B. Cooley, PhD
JAMA. 1990;263(9):1198-1199. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440090028012.
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To the Editor.—  Geller and colleagues1 supply important additional information regarding the many reasons physicians continue to underdiagnose alcoholism; the same problem exists among psychologists, social workers, nurses, and others in the health care business. As early as 1973, Fisher et al2 indicated that the longer one stays in medical school, the more negative one's attitude is toward alcoholics and the possibility of effective intervention. After 8 years of teaching physicians to identify drinking problems at an early stage, I have three points to make.I have had the experience of presenting well—thought-out and well-received workshops on how to identify problem drinkers and what to do once you identify them only to observe residents finish the seminar, meet with a patient shortly afterward, and miss virtually every clue that suggests a drinking problem. Noting this behavior reinforces my belief that this particular skill is best taught like many


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