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Exploring newly qualified doctors' workplace stressors: an interview study from Australia
  1. Victoria R Tallentire1,
  2. Samantha E Smith1,
  3. Adam D Facey2,
  4. Laila Rotstein2
  1. 1 University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Alfred Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr. Victoria R Tallentire; Vicky.Tallentire{at}


Purpose Postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) doctors suffer from high levels of psychological distress, yet the contributory factors are poorly understood. This study used an existing model of workplace stress to explore the elements most pertinent to PGY1 doctors. In turn, the data were used to amend and refine the conceptual model to better reflect the unique experiences of PGY1 doctors.

Method Focus groups were undertaken with PGY1 doctors working at four different health services in Victoria, Australia. Transcripts were coded using Michie's model of workplace stress as the initial coding template. Remaining text was coded inductively and the supplementary codes were used to modify and amplify Michie's framework.

Results There were 37 participants in total. Key themes included stressors intrinsic to the job, such as work overload and long hours, as well as those related to the context of work such as lack of role clarity and relationships with colleagues. The main modification to Michie's framework was the addition of the theme of uncertainty. This concept related to most of the pre-existing themes in complex ways, culminating in an overall sense of anxiety.

Conclusions Michie's model of workplace stress can be effectively used to explore the stressors experienced by PGY1 doctors. Pervasive uncertainty may help to explain the high levels of psychological morbidity in this group. While some uncertainty will always remain, the medical education community must seek ways to improve role clarity and promote mutual respect.

  • qualitative research

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors VRT, SES and ADF designed the study. VRT conducted all focus groups with the help of either LR or ADF. VRT and SES analysed the data and presented the initial findings to LR and ADF for discussion and modification. VRT and ADF wrote the manuscript which all authors reviewed and amended prior to submission.

  • Funding This work was funded by the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria (Research Grant 2014: Junior Doctor Wellbeing and Support) but they had no involvement in study design, data collection or analysis, writing of the manuscript or the decision to submit for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Monash University Human Resources Ethics Committee.

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

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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