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Evaluating psychiatric disability: differences by forensic expertise
Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center Publications and Presentations
  • Paul P. Christopher, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Rasim Arikan, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Debra A. Pinals, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • William H. Fisher, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Paul S. Appelbaum, Columbia University
UMMS Affiliation
Department of Psychiatry
Publication Date
Document Type
*Disability Evaluation; *Forensic Psychiatry; Humans; Physician's Practice Patterns; Questionnaires
The task of evaluating psychiatric disability poses several ethics-related and practical challenges for psychiatrists, especially when they are responding to a request from a third party for a disability evaluation on their own patient. This study sought to evaluate the differences in how forensic and nonforensic psychiatrists approach and view evaluations for Social Security disability benefits. Thirty-two forensic and 75 nonforensic psychiatrists were surveyed on their practice patterns and perceptions of role, objectivity, and dual agency in the disability evaluation process. Significant differences were found between forensic and nonforensic psychiatrists' perceptions of the dual-agency conflict, beliefs about who should perform evaluations, and beliefs about the weight given to different opinions when decisions of whether to award disability benefits are made. A minority of respondents in both groups reported having identified a patient as disabled, despite believing otherwise. The implications of these findings are discussed.

J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2011;39(2):183-8.

Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
Citation Information
Paul P. Christopher, Rasim Arikan, Debra A. Pinals, William H. Fisher, et al.. "Evaluating psychiatric disability: differences by forensic expertise" Vol. 39 Iss. 2 (2011) ISSN: 1093-6793 (Linking)
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