0346 GMT March 22, 2019
Just one in five say their work situation leaves them enough time for family or personal life, the study of more than 1,700 doctors shows, irishtimes.com wrote.
Work stress is reported by over 80 percent of those who participated in the study while almost 30 percent of doctors say they are insufficiently able to cope physically and mentally with the demands of work.
The extent to which Irish doctors are experiencing exhaustion is higher than in the UK, Australia or the US, prompting the study authors to call for a critical review of the their working conditions.
The study, published in BMJ Open, surveyed 1, 749 doctors and is the first national survey conducted on a group of hospital doctors working within the same health system in Ireland.
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Lead author Blánaid Hayes, former dean of the faculty of occupational medicine at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) said the results give ‘great cause for concern’.
“Surprisingly, in a milieu where evidence is the key driver of patient treatment, the evidence on the relationship between workplace psychosocial environment and employee health is paid little attention by those who fund and manage healthcare organizations. It is buried under the constant refrain of ‘putting the patient first’ with little regard for those who are instrumental in providing care.
“When work poses excessive demands with little control and support, its impact on both physical and mental health can be negative, leading to stress-related disorders, depression and other common mental health issues.”
The data was collected in 2014, following a period of cutbacks in the health service.
Low levels of work-life balance and high levels of stress were apparent among doctors of all grades. However, burnout was highest among male doctors, younger staff and doctors who were less able to cope, had a greater over-commitment or had a lower desire to practice.
Just over 70 percent said they had a strong or very strong desire to practice medicine.
A failure to deal with these problems will lead to doctors retiring early or developing health problems, the authors warn. This will cost the State money and contribute to ‘intolerable’ vacancy rates for consultants, they warn.
RCPI president Professor Mary Horgan said the college was pursuing ‘innovative approaches’ to support doctors’ health and to raise awareness of the importance of caring for them.