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Original research
Resilience, burnout and coping mechanisms in UK doctors: a cross-sectional study
  1. Nicola McKinley1,2,
  2. R Scott McCain1,
  3. Liam Convie1,2,
  4. Mike Clarke3,
  5. Martin Dempster4,
  6. William Jeffrey Campbell1,
  7. Stephen James Kirk1
  1. 1 General Surgery, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, UK
  2. 2 Queen's University Belfast Centre for Public Health, Belfast, UK
  3. 3 Northern Ireland Methodology Hub, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  4. 4 Queen's University Belfast School of Psychology, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicola McKinley; nmckinley01{at}qub.ac.uk

Abstract

Aims This cross-sectional study aimed to assess resilience, professional quality of life and coping mechanisms in UK doctors. It also aimed to assess the impact of demographic variables, such as sex, grade and specialty on these factors.

Methods During October and November 2018, medical doctors in the UK were eligible to complete an online survey made up of validated psychological instruments. Royal Colleges and other medical organisations invited their membership to participate via newsletters, email invitations, websites and social media.

Results 1651 doctors participated from a wide range of specialties and grades across the UK. The mean resilience score was 65.01 (SD 12.3), lower than population norms. Of those who responded, 31.5% had high burnout (BO), 26.2% had high secondary traumatic stress and 30.7% had low compassion satisfaction (CS). Doctors who responded from emergency medicine were more burned out than any other specialty group (F=2.62, p=0.001, df 14). Those who responded from general practice scored lowest for CS (F=6.43, p<0.001, df 14). 120 (8%) doctors met the criteria for all three of high BO, high STS and low CS. The most frequently reported coping mechanism was the maladaptive strategy of self-distraction.

Conclusions One-third of UK doctors who responded are burned out and suffering from STS. Those who responded from emergency medicine and general practice appear to be suffering the most. Over 100 doctors fell into the at-risk category of high BO, high STS and low CS. Future analysis of the free text responses from doctors may help to identify factors that are playing a role in the high levels of BO and STS being reported by medical staff.

  • resilience
  • burnout
  • doctor
  • physician
  • clinician
  • psychological well-being
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Footnotes

  • Contributors NM and RSM contributed equally to this study and can be considered joint first authors. NM designed the study, designed data collection tools, monitored data collection, cleaned and analysed the data and drafted and revised the paper. RSM designed the study, designed data collection tools and revised the paper. LC monitored data collection, analysed the data and drafted and revised the paper. MD designed the study, analysed the data and revised the draft paper. MC monitored data collection, analysed the data and revised the paper. WJC designed the study, analysed the data and revised the paper. SJK designed the study, monitored data collection, analysed the data and revised the paper.

  • Funding The authors would like to acknowledge the Innovation, Research and Development Office within the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust who granted the article processing charge (APC) for this open access publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Approval was granted from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust NHS Research Governance Committee (SET17.55) and ethical approval was granted by Queens University Belfast, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Ethics Committee (Ref 18.40).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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