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Litigation stress is best understood as consisting of negative physical and psychological reactions to being involved in a legal action. Indeed, litigation itself is mentioned specifically as a stressor in the multiaxial Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–Text Revised (fourth edition), in Axis IV (Psychosocial and Environmental Problems). A variety of physical and emotional responses to litigation have been found. Litigation is an uncertain process and one with which most people are not familiar. It can affect one's identity, causing feelings of guilt and shame, and can lead to isolation from family and peers. The problem is particularly acute for health professionals, who face professional sanctions in addition to the other consequences of a lawsuit.

The earliest work on litigation stress was done by a ...

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