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Psychiatric Prescribers' Lived Experience with Patients Who Engage in Doctor Shopping

Research Team

Julie Worley, Principal Investigator, RUSH University College of Nursing
Mary Johnson, Co-Investigator, RUSH University College of Nursing
Niranjan Karnik, Co-Investigator, RUSH University Medical Center

Award Period


Funding Source

RUSH University College of Nursing Research Fund


Prescription drug abuse and misuse is a significant problem in the United States resulting in huge societal and financial cost. According to the United States General Accountability Office, doctor shopping is the primary method of diversion of prescription drugs. Doctor shopping occurs when patients visit numerous prescribers to obtain prescriptions for controlled drugs for illicit use. In psychiatry, the classes of medications that are abused or misused include benzodiazepines and stimulants. Benzodiazepine abuse or misuse poses a significant problem because their use combined with opiates is highly associated with drug related deaths. Few research studies have been done with psychiatric providers (psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners) on the phenomenon of doctor shopping. A recent phenomenological study completed by the principle investigator of this proposal with doctor shoppers revealed that conning and manipulating prescribers was integral to their experience. To date no studies have been conducted to explore prescribers’ experiences with doctor shoppers. Currently there are no screening instruments or interventions available for prescribers in psychiatry to use to detect or prevent doctor shopping. The purpose of this proposed qualitative phenomenological study is to describe the meaning of psychiatric prescribers experience with patients who engage in doctor shopping. It is expected that the findings from this study will guide future studies, including intervention studies.

For more information about this project, please contact:

Julie Worley
Phone: 312.942.3460