Factors Involved in Making Decisions to Prescribe
Medications for Psychiatric Disorders by Psychiatrists:
A Survey Study
Terrie A. Sajbel
Timothy J. Hartman
Published online: 29 October 2011
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
Abstract The objective of this study is to understand psychiatrist’s decisions to prescribe
psychiatric medications. A survey questionnaire was prepared consisting of 15 factors.
Each factor had a ﬁve-point Likert scale, rating the importance of each factor in making
decisions to prescribe medications. Twenty-six psychiatrists at a state psychiatric hospital
completed the questionnaire. The data analysis involved the frequencies of responses for
each factor being compared using Chi square goodness-of-ﬁt tests with null hypothesis that
the response distribution will be centered around average score of three on the Likert scale.
All the participants rated patient’s symptom, severity, and diagnosis as the most important.
This was followed by the patient’s past experience with medications, then medication side
effects, concurrent physical health problems, and medication interactions. Psychiatrist’s
experience with medications rated as more important than evidence from clinical trials.
Finally, psychiatrists integrate evidence from research ﬁndings with personal experience,
patient preferences, and clinical context in making decisions in prescribing medications for
Keywords Psychiatric prescribing Á Psychopharmacology Á Prescription decisions Á
Evidence based medicine
Psychiatric problems are common complex medical problems and there have been sig-
niﬁcant advances in treatment. During the past few decades the introduction of effective
S. Rajendran Á T. A. Sajbel (&)
Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, 1600 W 24th St., Pueblo, CO 81003, USA
T. J. Hartman
Pﬁzer, Inc., New York, NY, USA
Psychiatr Q (2012) 83:271–280