Background: Light therapy (LT) is a non-pharmacological biological treatment that has been used in psychiatry since the 1980s. Previous research has investigated the usage of LT in hospitals. The aim of this study was to examine the pattern of use of LT by office-based physicians. Methods: A questionnaire was sent by mail to 400 randomly selected doctors in Austria. We made sure that the sample was equally representative of general practitioners (GPs) and psychiatrists, public health service doctors and private doctors, physicians in cities and in the country as well as male and female doctors. Non-responders were asked by phone and e-mail to answer the questionnaire. We achieved a response rate of 27.7%. Results: LT was generally recommended by 67.3% of all physicians (91.6% of the psychiatrists but only 46.6% of the GPs). The recommended location of treatment was patients' homes in 90%. Physicians were asked whether they considered LT to be an appropriate treatment for various disorders. There were affirmative answers from: 94.2% for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), 93.3% for sub-syndromal SAD, 60.6% for non-seasonal recurrent major depressive disorder, 35.6% for jet lag syndrome, 35.6% for chronobiological problems with shift work, 22.1% for insomnia, 13.5% for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and 10.6% for behavioural problems with Alzheimer's disease. Conclusions: Our results indicate that LT is regularly recommended by office-based physicians, especially psychiatrists. However, there is potential for greater application of LT in indications other than depressive disorder. The results found here are comparable to previous findings in psychiatric hospitals.

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