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Clin Med (Lond). 2016 Feb;16(1):12-8. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.16-1-12.

Practise what you preach: health behaviours and stress among non-consultant hospital doctors.

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Western Training Programme in General Practice, Galway University Hospital, Galway, Ireland.
graduate of the Western Training Programme in General Practice.
Western Training Programme in General Practice.
Department of Public Health, Health Service Executive West, Merlin Park Regional Hospital, Galway, Ireland


High rates of psychological distress, depression and suicide have been reported among doctors. Furthermore, many doctors do not access healthcare by conventional means. This study aimed to increase understanding regarding non-consultant hospital doctors' (NCHDs') response to stress and barriers to accessing supports, and identify possible solutions. Medical manpower departments in 58 hospitals distributed a 25-item questionnaire to 4,074 NCHDs; we received 707 responses (response rate, 17.4%). 60% of NCHDs were unable to take time off work when unwell; 'letting teammates down' (90.8%) and 'difficulty covering call' (85.9%) were the leading reasons. 'Being too busy' (85%), 'self-prescription' (66.6%) and 'self-management' (53.1%) were ranked highest in deterring NCHDs from visiting a general practitioner (GP). 22.9% of NCHDs would not attend a GP with anxiety or depression until they began to feel hopeless, helpless or suicidal. 12.2% would not seek help at all. 55% of respondents (n = 330) had to move away from partners or dependants due to work, negatively affecting the social supports of 82.9%. Possible practical solutions were explored. NCHDS are a vulnerable population and have a particularly challenging lifestyle. Key recommendations include improved GP and counselling access for NCHDs, and addressing the culture of self-treatment and poor health behaviours through undergraduate and postgraduate education.


Burnout; doctors’ health; solutions; stress; wellbeing

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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