Job stressors of New Zealand dentists and their coping strategies

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Abstract

Background

Dentistry is understood to be a stressful profession. Although there has been recent research about stress and dentistry in the UK and the Netherlands, little is known about the job stressors and coping strategies of New Zealand dentists.

Aim

To investigate job stressors and coping strategies among New Zealand dentists.

Methods

A nationwide postal survey of a representative sample of 700 dentists.

Results

The response rate was 65%. The most commonly reported stressors were treating difficult children (52%), constant time pressure (48%) and maintaining high levels of concentration (43%). The strategies most utilized for managing work-related stress included interactions with people (78%), sports (64%) and forgetting about work (59%). Dentists who had graduated overseas reported more sources of stress than New Zealand graduates. There were differences in the strategies used by male and female practitioners to manage stress.

Conclusions

There is considerable variation in the number of stressors experienced by dentists. Overseas-qualified dentists appear to be under more stress than New Zealand-trained dentists and may need greater professional support. Dentists should be encouraged to make greater use of active coping strategies.

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