Author(s): Marshall SC, Gilbert N
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Although legislation has been introduced in Saskatchewan for mandatory reporting by physicians of patients considered medically unfit to drive, little is known about physicians' attitudes, knowledge or resources with regard to evaluating medical fitness to drive. METHODS: The objective of this study was to determine Saskatchewan physicians' attitudes, knowledge, training, resources and current educational needs with regard to evaluating medical fitness to drive. A questionnaire survey of all physicians in the province who were identified as likely to be involved in determining medical fitness to drive was conducted between October and December 1996. RESULTS: Of the 1102 physicians who received a questionnaire, 690 (62.6\%) responded, of whom 167 were excluded because they were not involved in assessing fitness to drive. Thus, 523 (55.9\%) of the 935 eligible physicians surveyed completed the questionnaire. Most (57.6\% [298/517]) of the respondents indicated that they do not hesitate to report patients medically unfit to drive; however, 59.5\% (307/516) felt that the physician-patient relationship is negatively affected by reporting. Overall, 85.5\% (444/519) of the respondents felt that restricted licensing is a fair alternative for people who might otherwise be denied a full licence. The availability of restricted licensing positively influenced the decision to report for 60.3\% (313/519) of the respondents. Significantly more rural physicians than urban physicians believed that the need to drive was greater for rural residents than for urban dwellers (81.2\% [95/117] v. 64.2\% [257/400], p < 0.001). Physician knowledge regarding specific medical conditions and fitness to drive was generally poor. The resource most commonly used in determining medical fitness to drive was the Physicians' Guide to Driver Examination (71.1\% [361/508] of respondents). The most useful continuing medical education methods indicated by physicians for assessing medical fitness to drive included conference presentations, workshops and journal articles. INTERPRETATION: Most of the Saskatchewan physicians surveyed supported restricted licensing, and the availability of restricted licensing made them more likely to report patients considered medically unfit to drive. The physician-patient relationship was felt to be negatively affected by reporting.
This article was published in CMAJ
and referenced in Advances in Automobile Engineering