Physicians are often dissatisfied with their own medical care. Self-prescribing is common despite established guidelines that discourage this practice. From a pilot study, we know primary care physicians’ (PCP) preferences, but we lack information regarding other specialties and work places.
The goal of this study was to examine whether physicians are satisfied with their personal primary care and how this could be improved.
We distributed an electronic survey to all physicians registered with the Israeli Medical Association. The questionnaire examined satisfaction with medical care, preferences for using formal care versus informal care, self-prescribing and barriers to using formal care.
Two thousand three hundred and five out of 24 360 invited physicians responded. Fifty-six per cent of the respondents were satisfied with their personal primary care. Fifty-two per cent reported initiating self-treatment with a medication during the last year. Five and four per cent initiated treatment with a benzodiazepine and an antidepressant, respectively, during the last year. This was despite the fact that most physicians did not feel competent to treat themselves. Having a personal PCP was correlated with both a desire to use formal care and self-referral to formal care in practice. Regression analysis showed that the highest odds ratio (OR) for experiencing a large gap between desired and actual care were for physicians who had no personal PCP (OR = 1.92).
Physicians frequently engage in self-treatment and in informal medical care. Whether the root cause is the health care system structure that does not meet their needs or the convenience of self-treatment is not known.

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