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Medical aspects of fitness to drive. What do public hospital doctors know and think?

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Abstract:

Abstract Background:

In Australia medical practitioners are often required to assume the responsibility for assessing fitness to drive. However the clinical practice, knowledge and attitudes of doctors with regards to this responsibility are unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the clinical practice, knowledge and attitudes of public hospital doctors in the area of fitness-to-drive decision-making. Methods:

A survey of public hospital doctors in Adelaide, South Australia was undertaken in 2003, shortly after the promulgation nationwide of guidelines to assist in the assessment of patients’ fitness to drive. The survey sought details on medical practitioners’ clinical practice in this regard, as well as their knowledge of the guidelines. In addition, it sought their attitudes to undertake this responsibility. Results:

Eighty-four per cent of respondents had at some time in their working career at least discussed the issue of fitness to drive with their patients. Seventy per cent acknowledged that they had received the recently published guidelines on fitness to drive. Despite this, knowledge of the contents of the guidelines was poor. Attitudes to the responsibility were equivocal with several significant reservations expressed. Conclusion:

Public hospital doctors in Australia have poor knowledge of the content of published guidelines in the area of fitness to drive. If this situation is to be improved, alternative approaches to the education of this group with respect to this significant public health problem should be considered. Many doctors are uncomfortable with their responsibilities in this area and alternative models of decision-making should be considered.

Keywords: fitness to drive; medical education

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1445-5994.2007.01337.x

Affiliations: 1: Flinders Medical Centre 2: Australian Centre for Evidence Based Practice

Publication date: June 1, 2007

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