Research Article

Ignoring the obvious: doctors' wives as patients.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 285 doi: (Published 17 July 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;285:187
  1. J Dearlove,
  2. T Bate,
  3. B Dearlove,
  4. P Newman


    There is a widely held belief among doctors and nurses that when a colleague is in hospital, if anything can go wrong during the course of his illness it invariably will. To investigate this belief, we studied prospectively a group of pregnant doctors and doctors' wives, comparing the number of obstetric, paediatric, and psychiatric complications with those in two control groups of similar social class, race, and parity. These were teachers and lecturers and a group of State registered nurses. The occurrence of obstetric and paediatric problems was similar in the three groups. Psychiatric problems, however, were more common among teachers and lecturers (p less than 0.001); this difference was due to the way the nurses on the postnatal wards failed to report mild psychiatric problems among doctors' wives to their colleagues. This difference was not related to the amount of preferential treatment that doctors and doctors' wives received while in hospital.