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Adverse effects on health and wellbeing of working as a doctor: views of the UK medical graduates of 1974 and 1977 surveyed in 2014

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Fay SmithORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2017, © The Royal Society of Medicine.Objective: To report on any adverse effects on health and wellbeing of working as a doctor, as described by senior doctors. Design: Questionnaires sent in 2014 to all medical graduates of 1974 and 1977. Participants: 3695 UK medical graduates. Setting: United Kingdom. Main outcome measures: Statements about adverse effects upon health, wellbeing and career. Results: The aggregated response rate from contactable doctors was 84.6% (3695/4369). In response to the question ‘Do you feel that working as a doctor has had any adverse effects on your own health or wellbeing?’, 44% of doctors answered ‘yes’. More GPs (47%) than hospital doctors (42%) specified that this was the case. Three-quarters of doctors who answered ‘yes’ cited ‘stress/work–life balance/workload’ as an adverse effect, and 45% mentioned illness. In response to the statement ‘The NHS of today is a good employer when doctors become ill themselves’, 28% of doctors agreed, 29% neither agreed nor disagreed and 43% disagreed. More women doctors (49%) than men doctors (40%) disagreed with this statement. More general practitioners (49%) disagreed than hospital doctors (37%). Conclusions: Chronic stress and illness, which these doctors attributed to their work, were widely reported. Although recent changes may have alleviated some of these issues, there are lessons for the present and future if the NHS is to ensure that its medical workforce receives the support which enables current doctors to enjoy a full and satisfying career and to contribute fully to health service provision in the UK. Older doctors, in particular, need support to be able to continue successfully in their careers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith F, Goldacre MJ, Lambert TW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Year: 2017

Volume: 110

Issue: 5

Pages: 198-207

Print publication date: 01/05/2017

Online publication date: 20/03/2017

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 28/05/2019

ISSN (print): 0141-0768

ISSN (electronic): 1758-1095

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0141076817697489

PubMed id: 28504070


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