Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors, their wellbeing, and their stress

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 29 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:670

It's time to be proactive about stress—and prevent it

  1. Jenny Firth-Cozens (, special adviser on modernisation of postgraduate education
  1. London Deanery, London WC1E 7HX

    Countless studies of the levels and sources of stress in doctors have taken place in the UK over the past 20 years. My own longitudinal study, begun with students in 1983,1 was in response to two registrars asking me if someone could do something on the stress and depression that they saw around them. Two of their house officers had killed themselves in the last month, and no one had discussed or mentioned it within the teams. It was unmentionable. Over the years some things have changed, and some have stayed the same. This week's theme issue in Career Focus concentrates on ill and stressed doctors.

    The proportion of doctors and other health professionals showing above threshold levels of stress has stayed remarkably constant at around 28%, whether the studies are cross sectional or longitudinal, compared with around 18% in the general working population. 1 2 What has changed over the years is that, contrary to the …

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