Self-referrals to a doctors' mental health service over 10 years

Meerten, M.; Rost, F.; Bland, J. and Garelick, A. I. (2014). Self-referrals to a doctors' mental health service over 10 years. Occupational Medicine, 64(3) pp. 172–176.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqt177

Abstract

Background
The adverse impact on doctors’ health of constant organizational change in healthcare is well established.

Aims
To investigate the change in self-referral rates to a doctors’ mental health service, and associated morbidity over a decade.

Methods All doctors attending a doctors’ mental health service between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2011 were asked to complete the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation questionnaire and Maslach burnout inventory as part of routine assessment before treatment. Univariate analysis of variance was used to test for statistically significant differences between severity scores in different years.

Results
Between 1 January 2002 and 31 December 2011, 1062 doctors attended the service; 852 (80%) completed both questionnaires and 64 (6%) completed one of them. The overall response rate was 86% (916/1062). Referrals increased >4-fold, from 44 in 2002 to 185 in 2011. Sixty-one per cent scored above the threshold for psychological distress and 59% for burnout. There were no significant changes in morbidity over time.

Conclusions
Increasing numbers of doctors sought help from the doctors’ mental health support service. More than half scored above the thresholds for burnout and psychological distress and these proportions were consistent over 10 years. Doctors may be more willing to seek help than a decade ago. Further research is needed to confirm the underlying reasons for this. More resource is needed to meet the increase in demand.

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