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Doctors don’t Do-little: a national cross-sectional study of workplace well-being of hospital doctors in Ireland
  1. Blánaid Hayes1,2,
  2. Lucia Prihodova2,
  3. Gillian Walsh2,
  4. Frank Doyle3,
  5. Sally Doherty3
  1. 1 Occupational Health Department, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland
  2. 2 Research Department, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland
  3. 3 Department of Psychology, Division of Population and Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin 2, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Professor Blánaid Hayes; blanaidmhayes{at}


Objectives To measure levels of occupational stress, burn-out, work–life balance, presenteeism, work ability (balance between work and personal resources) and desire to practise in trainee and consultant hospital doctors in Ireland.

Design National cross-sectional study of randomised sample of hospital doctors. Participants provided sociodemographic data (age, sex), work grade (consultant, higher/basic specialist trainee), specialty, work hours and completed workplace well-being questionnaires (Effort–Reward Imbalance (ERI) Scale, overcommitment, Maslach Burnout Inventory) and single item measures of work ability, presenteeism, work–life balance and desire to practise.

Setting Irish publicly funded hospitals and residential institutions.

Participants 1749 doctors (response rate of 55%). All hospital specialties were represented except radiology.

Results 29% of respondents had insufficient work ability and there was no sex, age or grade difference. 70.6% reported strong or very strong desire to practise medicine, 22% reported good work–life balance, 82% experienced workplace stress, with effort greatly exceeding reward, exacerbated by overcommitment. Burn-out was evident in 29.7% and was significantly associated with male sex, younger age, lower years of practice, lower desire to practise, lower work ability, higher ERI ratio and greater overcommitment. Apart from the measures of work ability and overcommitment, there was no sex or age difference across any variable. However, ERI and burn-out were significantly lower in consultants than trainees.

Conclusions Hospital doctors across all grades in Ireland had insufficient work ability, low levels of work–life balance, high levels of work stress and almost one-third experienced burn-out indicating suboptimal work conditions and environment. Yet, most had high desire to practise medicine. Measurement of these indices should become a quality indicator for hospitals and research should focus on the efficacy of a range of individual and organisational interventions for burn-out and occupational stress.

  • wellbeing
  • doctor
  • occupational stress
  • burnout
  • workability

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  • Contributors All authors met at least one of the criteria recommended by the ICMJE and have agreed on the final version of the manuscript. BH and GW were involved in conceiving and designing the original protocol. BH wrote the first draft of the manuscript. LP, SD, GW and FD contributed to subsequent drafts and FD provided statistical advice.

  • Funding We wish to acknowledge the generous financial support provided by the Human Resources National Directorate of the Health Service Executive (HSE) as well as that provided by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the College of Anaesthetists. This covered the cost of consumables, data entry to SPSS and publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study protocol was approved by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s (RCPI) Research Ethics Committee in December 2013 (RCPI RECSAF 20).

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

  • Data sharing statement As per the ethics approval, the data will not be shared outside of the participating research institutions. Any sharing of the data beyond the group will be subject to review by the host institution (Royal College of Physicians of Ireland) and to independent research ethics application. Any queries on how to access the dataset should be directed to

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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