Doctors must look after their health too

Nov 12, 2008

Short term counselling followed by a modest cut in work hours may help reduce emotional exhaustion (burnout) and sick leave in doctors, according to a study published on bmj.com today.

It is well known that doctors have higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population and are less likely to seek help. There have been calls for early intervention programmes to help doctors with mental distress and burnout before their problems interfere with the welfare of patients.

Although such programmes have been shown to reduce stress and exhaustion, it is not clear what type of intervention is best suited to which individual or personal characteristics, or which factors contribute to positive changes.

Dr Karin Rø and colleagues from Norway examined levels of burnout and predictors of reduction in emotional exhaustion after one year, in 227 stressed doctors who participated in voluntary counselling.

Initially, 187 doctors attended a one day individual session, and 40 a one week group based course. Of the 185 doctors who completed follow-up assessments, 70 returned for an additional intervention during the follow-up year, 51 to a one week course and 19 to an individual session.

They completed self report assessments in the four weeks before and the three weeks after the counselling, and a follow-up questionnaire after one year. The data was compared with data obtained from a representative sample of Norwegian doctors in 2003.

One year after a counselling intervention stressed doctors reported a reduction in emotional exhaustion and job stress similar to the level found in a representative sample of Norwegian doctors.

The researchers also found that the number of doctors on full time sick leave had reduced substantially in the year after counselling (35% to 6%), and that the use of psychotherapy also substantially increased from 20% to 53% in the follow-up year.

Interestingly, they found that reduction in work hours after the intervention was also associated with a reduction in emotional exhaustion.

"Our findings indicate that seeking a counselling intervention could be conducive to reduction of burnout among doctors. Considering doctors' reluctance to seek help…it is important to offer interventions that facilitate access", conclude the authors.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Distracted driving among teens threatens public health and safety

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Revisiting ADHD and Ritalin

May 17, 2011

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Lawrence H. Diller, a pediatrician from Walnut Creek, Calif., ignited a national debate over the steep rise in children being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and treated with ...

Diagnosing 'seizures' in the US economy

May 12, 2011

Since 2008, the U.S. economy has been "seizing" uncontrollably. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher says that a comparison of the multifaceted economic downturn with the uncontrolled spasms of an epileptic ...

Recommended for you

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care (Update)

56 minutes ago

President Barack Obama said Thursday 8 million Americans have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges, besting expectations and offering new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead ...

Smoking's toll on mentally ill analyzed

10 hours ago

Those in the United States with a mental illness diagnosis are much more likely to smoke cigarettes and smoke more heavily, and are less likely to quit smoking than those without mental illness, regardless ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...