Physicians’ psychologic reactions to malpractice litigation

Catherine A. Martin, John F. Wilson, Nathan D. Fiebelman, Diana N. Gurley, Thomas W. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


A questionnaire investigating the psychologic sequelae of malpractice litigation was administered to sued and nonsued physicians through a major malpractice insurer in a rural southern state. Factor analysis showed clusters of symptoms, including psychologic trauma, job strain, shame/doubt, and active coping. Psychologic stress decreased with time (but did not return to baseline after 2 years), with winning a case, and with increased age. Stress was increased among those with cases pending or multiple suits. Female physicians used more active coping strategies, and being in a high-risk specialty led to greater job strain and active coping, regardless of litigation experience. Malpractice litigation is a major life trauma that should be dealt with as any other trauma, including use of positive coping strategies such as knqwledge of the psychologic sequelae, cognitive reframing, and collegial and personal support systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1304
Number of pages5
JournalSouthern Medical Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Physicians’ psychologic reactions to malpractice litigation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this