Treatment Orientation and Associated Characteristics of North American Academic Psychiatrists

Bodkin, J. Alexander; Klitzman, Robert L.; Pope Jr., Harrison G.

We present data showing the degree to which a “biological-psychotherapeutic” division persists in American psychiatry, and how psychiatrists' treatment orientation is associated with personal and professional characteristics. Almost two thirds of academic psychiatrists who responded to our survey (N = 435) could be classified as either biological (27%) or psychotherapeutic (37%) in orientation, according to the proportion of their caseload to which they provided psychotherapy (25% vs. ≥75%). There appears to have been an increase over the last 35 years in the proportion of psychiatrists who can be classified as biologically oriented and a decrease in the proportion who can be classified as psychotherapeutically oriented, as well as the emergence of a large class of intermediate or “eclectic” practitioners (36%). Several personal and professional attributes were distributed differentially according to treatment orientation. Psychotherapeutically oriented respondents more frequently reported personal histories of psychiatric disorders than did biologically oriented respondents (64% vs. 39%) as well as greater satisfaction with clinical work (81% vs. 53% “very satisfied”). Differences were also found in age, gender, history of personal psychotherapy, family history of psychiatric disorder, history of marijuana use, degrees of involvement in research, teaching and clinical care of patients, and overall work satisfaction, as well as other characteristics.


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The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

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June 5, 2020