Psychiatric Quarterly [psaq] PH015-294629 March 30, 2001 11:22 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 2, 2001
SUBSTANCE USE AND OTHER
PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS IN
Channa P. Wijesinghe, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.Psych.,
F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., and Fionnuala Dunne, M.B., M.R.C.Psych.
This paper describes the nature and comorbidity of substance use and other
psychiatric disorders in 157 impaired practitioners notiﬁed to the Medical Prac-
titioners Board of Victoria from 1983 to 1997. Diagnoses were reduced to three
diagnostic categories, viz, substance use disorder (n = 62), other psychiatric
disorder (n = 62), and combined substance use and other psychiatric disorder
(n = 33). Sixty nine percent of those with other psychiatric disorders suffered
either bipolar disorder (n = 27), schizophrenia (n = 22), or depression (n = 17).
Psychiatric comorbidity in drug-related diagnoses was 26% and in alcohol-
related diagnoses 64%. Sixty ﬁve percent of substance use disorders were no-
tiﬁed more than 12 months after onset of impairment, and 49% of all prac-
titioners (71% with substance use disorder) did not receive treatment prior to
notiﬁcation. This combined with a high relapse rate (41%) makes some impaired
practitioners a risk to their patients.
KEY WORDS: impaired practitioner; substance use disorder; psychiatric disorder; co-
morbidity; licensing boards.
Channa P. Wijesinghe, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.C.Psych., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., is a Consultant Psy-
chiatrist, Vaucluse Hospital, Brunswick, Australia, and Past Member, Medical Practition-
ers Board of Victoria. Fionnuala Dunne, M.B., M.R.C.Psych., is a Consultant Psychiatrist,
South West Area Mental Health Service, Footscray, Australia.
Address correspondence to Channa P. Wijesinghe, 55 Hillsyde Pde., Strathmore, Vic.
2001 Human Sciences Press, Inc.