Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Source of stress in women junior house officers.

British Medical Journal 1990; 301 doi: (Published 14 July 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;301:89
  1. J Firth-Cozens
  1. Department of Psychology, University of Leeds.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the causes of stress in women doctors and relate these to levels of depression. DESIGN--Questionnaire study. SUBJECTS--Of 92 women doctors who had graduated from the universities of Leeds, Manchester, and Sheffield in 1986 and had been working as junior house officers for eight months 70 (76%) returned completed questionnaires. MAIN RESULTS--Mean score on the general health questionnaire was 13.79 (SD 5.20) and on the symptom checklist for depression was 1.43 (0.83). The scores of 32 subjects (46%) were above the criterion for clinical depression. Overwork was perceived as creating the most strain, followed by effects on personal life, serious failures of treatment, and talking to distressed relatives. Both stress and depression were related to effects on personal life, overwork, relations with consultants, and making decisions. Sex related sources of stress were conflicts between career and personal life, sexual harassment at work, a lack of female role models, and prejudice from patients. In addition to these, discrimination by senior doctors was related to depression. CONCLUSION--Changes are needed in the career paths of women doctors, and could be implemented.