Health and Correctional Psychology Chair, Kursk State Medical University, Kursk, Russia
The vocational activities of doctors and their social status do not ensure their health. And, falling ill, doctors don’t identify themselves with ordinary patients as they have a deep knowledge of medicine. Thus, the internal picture of a doctor’s illness is both a research and a practical problem: the problem of the psychoprevention of doctors’ illnesses at all stages of their professionalization. The purpose of the research was to study the phenomenological features of the internal picture of doctors’ illnesses using the structural approach. The total number of participants was 132. The experimental group consisted of 66 sick doctors, differentiated according to their stage of professionalization: vocational training (students), professional adaptation (interns), full professionalization (doctors). The control group consisted of 66 people who did not have any medical education. All the control subjects were hospitalized with chronic diseases during the study period. The organization of the research was carried out with the use of clinical-psychological and diagnostic methods, the methods of descriptive statistics, and comparative, multidimensional, and structural analysis. The research revealed the following phenomenological features of the internal picture of doctors’ illnesses: the prevalence of some anxiety in the doctors and high awareness of their health; the doctors’ altruistic orientation; their willingness to work despite difficulties; and their ability to achieve high results in different activities. The structural features of the doctors’ image of their own diseases on the cognitive level were the following: qualitative heterogeneity during in-service activities; a high degree of image integration during in-service activities; and stereotyped perceptions of the disease. The emotional level revealed the emotional distance between doctors and their patients, and the behavioral level revealed doctors’ disregard for the symptoms of the disease. The structural-phenomenological features of the formation of the internal picture of doctors’ illnesses are specific to the circumstances of their origin. For the purpose of the psychoprevention of doctors’ own diseases it is necessary to include these features in the special courses on medical psychology at the stages of vocational training (students) and professional adaptation (interns), as well as in the “psychology in practical medicine” project for doctors.
Keywords: internal picture of illness, mental representation, structural features, phenomenological features, doctors