Changing society: changing role of doctors

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7247.1417 (Published 27 May 2000)
Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1417

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The stresses must not be allowed to get too great

  1. Töres Theorell, director
  1. National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

    Papers p 1437

    The role of the doctor has changed drastically since the 1930s and 1940s, when practitioners struggled with unbelievably large numbers of patients in their districts. Today the numbers of patients are much smaller, but their qualitative demands are much higher. At the same time the high status of the doctor has been diminished. These changing patterns of work and position in society are creating new, and damaging, stresses.

    Our own studies in the 1980s at the Swedish National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health showed that doctors had longer working hours and more exposure to shiftwork schedules (being on call) but also more stimulating work than men and women in most otheroccupations.1 Doctors also claimed that in relation to most aspects of their work they had reasonable control over their working situation—more than in most other occupations. Since then the situation has changed.

    Recent studies of the working population in Sweden show that both female and male doctors report both high demands and little …

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