Doctors’ wellbeing is increasingly attracting the attention of researchers. It is of interest of itself and because of its potential impact on the health of others. In the wake of the global recession of the past decade, Ireland dramatically cut its healthcare expenditure resulting in significant staff shortages at a time of growing population, more challenging healthcare delivery and increased societal expectation. This has created a highly challenging psychosocial environment for healthcare workers. Consultants feel undervalued and are concerned about the quality of care they provide. They perceive care to be thwarted by managers being reactive and not focused on longterm planning. As well as feeling undervalued, trainees too have concerns about the quality of care they provide and they struggle to manage both service and training demands.Method
Utilising validated questionnaires, a national cross-sectional survey of hospital doctors, undertaken in 2014, sought responses from consultants and trainees working in the sector. The response rate was 55%.Results
Hospital doctors in Ireland had higher levels of psychological distress than elsewhere. They also had significant symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as high levels of burnout and occupational stress. Self-stigma in relation to mental illness was more common in doctors than in the general population. However, current desire to practice remained high.Discussion
The high levels of personal and workplace distress identified in this study suggest that much needs to be done to highlight the importance of doctors’ wellbeing in this country. Self-stigmatisation is likely a barrier to early identification and treatment of mental health problems. Post-graduate training bodies have already begun to address these issues with trainee and trainer members. Occupational health services have a key role to play in ensuring appropriate access to care and in determining necessary workplace restrictions and/or supports for this group.