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Doctors Show Higher Levels of Psychological Problems Than Other Professions
© PictureDisk/Keith Brofsky
Researchers tried to establish the size and nature of mental ill health among UK doctors using several methods, such as performing a literature review on sick doctors, reviewing policy documents from the Department of Health and the General Medical Council, reviewing evidence, and attending conferences.
They found that health problems ranged from anxiety through emotional exhaustion to clinical depression, substance misuse, and suicide. Depression, alcoholism, and anxiety disorders were the most common. Furthermore, a poor organisational culture within heath services means that doctors are often reluctant to seek help.
Studies by the Nuffield Trust have identified the major factors for psychological disturbance in junior to senior grades as the long hours worked, the high workload, the pressure of work, and their effect on doctors’ personal lives.
A mental health needs assessment should be conducted urgently across the profession, not just those doctors who are already seeking help, say the authors. A health impact assessment should also be undertaken to build an evidence base for acceptable, responsive, and effective services.
“We owe a duty of care to our colleagues. At present we are letting them down,” they conclude.
MEDICA.de, Source: BMJ Volume 326, pp s97-8