Studies suggest that health care providers' evaluation of patients is related to
aspects of the presenting problem, i.e., its seriousness, curability, and rarity;
the extent to which the problem was self-caused; and to aspects of the patients,
i.e., their age, social distance from providers and cooperativeness. Analysis of
220 emergency room staff members' perceptions of 14 hypothetical patients showed
that with the exception of rarity of problem and social distance, the tested factors
were significantly related to ratings of rewardingness of patient encounters. Results
indicated that predictors of reward derived from substance-abusing and non-substance-abusing
patients were different. While seriousness of illness was the primary predictor with
non-substance-abusers, perceived cooperativeness was primary with substance-abusers.
Predictors of rewarding patient encounters also differed according to staff level.
Implications of these differences for emergency treatment of substance-abusers is