The Addictions Academy: Guest blog by George Anderson of Anderson and Anderson Anger Management

The Addictions Academy: guest blog by George Anderson of Anderson and Anderson Anger Management

A significant proportion of physicians and medical trainees experience stress-related anxiety and burnout resulting in increased absenteeism and disability, decreased patient satisfaction, and increased rates of medical errors. There is no consistent definition of burnout. It is not a defined diagnosis in the DSM-IV. This is equally true for “disruptive physician behavior”/anger.

“Burnout is especially problematic for individuals who are at the frontline of their professions. The impact of this chronic condition on physicians is particularly important given that their actions are so directly linked to the mortality and morbidity of patients. The medical profession is acutely aware of this problem and many interventions have been developed to ameliorate the antecedents and consequences of burnout. However, there has been a tendency in medicine to view burnout from a pathogenic perspective that has led to solutions that seek to “treat” it either via modifications in the work environment or up-skilling for the individual (or a combination of both). All three approaches are rooted in the notion that burnout is ailment that needs a cure.” This same response is seen in attempting to address “disruptive physicians”.

The American Medical Association defines inappropriate/angry behavior as “conduct that is unwarranted and is reasonably interpreted to be demeaning or offensive. Persistent, repeated inappropriate behavior can become a form of harassment and thereby become disruptive, and subject to treatment as ‘disruptive behavior.’”

How can psychiatric treatment be provided for a “non-pathological condition? The objective answer is that non-psychiatric issues should be left to non-psychiatric interventions.

Here are some of the current interventions for physician burnout:
•Physician well-being programs.
•Continuing Medical Education programs.
•Psycho-educational programs.
•Feel Good Affirmation programs
•Resiliency programs
•Organizational changes

Here are some of the current interventions used to address “disruptive physician behavior”.
•Anger Management Programs.
•Continuing Medical Education Programs.
•Psycho-educational programs.
•Emotional Intelligence Programs.
•Feel Good Affirmation Programs
•Organizational programs


In examining the limited research available, the two issues may be the results of the same organizational conditions. Therefore, it may make sense to consider “disruptive physician behavior” to be a consequence of “physician burnout”. Anderson & Anderson, APC routinely receive and provide Emotional Intelligence Coaching for physicians who are described as burnout as well those who are referred for “disruptive behavior”.

George Anderson LCSW, CAMF