Research News

Doctors facing complaints have severe depression and suicidal thoughts, study finds

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h244 (Published 17 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h244
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1The BMJ

Doctors with a current or recent complaint against them are more likely to report severe depression or anxiety and to harbour suicidal thoughts than those with no complaints, a study has shown. It also found that most doctors—whether they have a complaint against them or not—are changing the way they practise medicine by taking on defensive behaviours because of the complaints process.

The study, reported in the online journal BMJ Open,1 found that doctors who were referred to the professional regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC), seemed to be the most at risk of mental ill health.

Altogether, 7926 doctors completed an anonymised online survey sent to more than 95 000 BMA members in 2012, giving a response rate of 8.3%. The survey included questions about doctors’ personal history of complaints, the effect of going through a complaints procedure, and medical history, as well as validated tests …

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