It has been frequently suggested that physicians' indiscriminate prescribing has caused the high level of patient use of benzodiazepines. To determine whether this was true at Ottawa Civic Hospital's Family Medicine Centre, patient charts of women aged 45 to 65-the age-sex group that received the highest number of new prescriptions for diazepam (Valium) or oxazepam (Serax) - were studied. Middle-aged women who received a new prescription for one of these drugs visited the office significantly more often, had more marital problems, and experienced significantly more life crisis situation than a control group of nonrecipients. These results suggest that the high rate of prescribing is related to high levels of reported life stress in middle-aged women. Further studies in other centers are needed to conclusively disprove the popularly held idea that benzodiazepines are indiscriminately prescribed by physicians.
Population surveys were conducted, examining nonpsychotic psychiatric symptoms, life events, and problems in community living in Primrose, a community experiencing rapid growth in anticipation of the construction of a heavy oil extraction plant, and in Wolf Creek, a stable rural town. Psychiatric symptom levels were lower in the boom town than in Wolf Creek, but the Primrose symptom levels were comparable to those in Saskatchewan. More life events were experienced by Primrose residents who, despite lower symptom levels, had seen their physician more often for minor illnesses. The complaints about living in the town of Primrose matched those of boom town residents from elsewhere. There was no evidence to support the popular view that living in a boom town creates more nonpsychotic psychiatric symptomatology. The higher proportion of the boom town population using physician services for minor illnesses, the higher level of life events reported, and the high frequency of reported problems for families living in the boom town support suggestions that stress is associated with these conditions.
Two groups of Swedish women--51 employed and 96 unemployed--were compared in terms of their scores on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). It was hypothesized that unemployed women would be more depressed than their employed counterparts and further that the distress of unemployment would be reflected in elevations in cortisol values among those who were out of work. It was found, even when controlling for social support, stressful life events and marital status, that depression as seen in the BDI scores, was greater in the unemployed group. However, no relationship was observed between either cortisol and employment status or cortisol and depression.
This article focuses on heavy alcohol consumption among young Canadian men drinkers aged 15-29 and examines how employment status and marital status interact with age. The study found that the highest percentages of heavy drinkers occurred in men over the age of 18 who are single (divorced, separated or never married) and in the labor force, whether employed or unemployed. This study, based on cohort data, generated hypotheses that need to be tested with longitudinal data in order to better understand developmental differences and other factors that affect drinking practices.
Because individuals who deal effectively with life events may be healthier, doctors may need to be aware of the important events in their patients' lives. This study was designed to document the actual level of awareness that 20 community family practitioners had of their middle-aged patients' life events. A total of 116 patients completed a life events questionnaire when they visited their family doctors. The physicians completed a similar questionnaire for each patient. A comparison between the patients' and physicians' responses provided the measure of doctors' awareness. Doctors were found to be aware of approximately 25% of all patients' life events. Awareness was inversely associated with patients' self-reliance and directly associated with age of patients and with those events having a negative effect. The observed level of knowledge may be unacceptably low, in which case physicians must find ways to improve their knowledge. Alternatively, this level of knowledge may be realistic, given that some patients may not need to discuss their life events, particularly self-reliant patients or patients experiencing events that did not affect them negatively. If this is the case, family physicians need to find ways of determining the patients and events for which their knowledge would be helpful.