Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Joy to the world

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 19 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l7013
  1. Sophie Cook, Christmas issue editor
  1. The BMJ
  1. scook{at}

The general election meant the season of joy was slow to start in the UK this year. But now it’s time to recycle your rainbow of election leaflets and settle down with the Christmas BMJ and a mince pie. If recent political events dampened your mood, as they can do (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6322), this issue brings some welcome light relief and perhaps even a little bit of joy.

Abi Rimmer finds there is still much that brings doctors joy at work (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6745). Colleagues seem to top the list, with nods to dedicated and passionate staff who go the extra mile. But if you are awaiting recognition in the New Year’s honours list, you’ve chosen the wrong profession. John Emelifeonwu and colleagues discover that doctors are less likely to be “splashed by the fountain of honour” than people working in sports, politics, or the arts and media (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6721).

Matthew Limb reports that pets are bringing joy to all (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6771). Dogs, birds, cats, and even miniature ponies are dispatched to the wards. Elena Ratschen and Trevor Sheldon say there is limited evidence to support these interventions (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6260), but it’s hard to imagine how these adorable “coworkers” won’t raise spirits and bring smiles to faces. What might “Dr Trump” say about animals on wards? He’s tweeted about all things medical, and Joanne Silberner rounds up his most striking health advice (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6655).

Daisy Fancourt and Andrew Steptoe find that regular visits to museums, art galleries, exhibitions, or the theatre could help you live longer than your less cultured peers (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6377). Even if Santa brings a museum subscription, a life in academia won’t give you spare time to make use of it. According to Adrian Barnett and colleagues, academics undertake much of their work outside contracted hours (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6460).

Adrenaline junkies who get their kicks from fast cars may be interested to learn which doctors are most likely to be caught speeding. Anupam Jena and colleagues find that psychiatrists are most culpable of “extreme speeding” but that cardiologists more often speed while driving a luxury car (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6354).

To facilitate joy at work we must support a positive working environment. During the first world war the British War Office declined offers of help from a group of women doctors, who were told to go home and “sit still.” Chris Holme describes how their dedication and perseverance led to the establishment of one of the most successful hospitals on the western front (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6747). Today, female doctors are no rarity, and in some countries we have overtaken men in numbers. But gender biases remain, and people often revert to male pronouns for doctors. It’s time to kick this habit, says Elizabeth Loder (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6565), arguing that “female pronouns and women can be powerful if we work to make them so.” A study by Marc Lerchenmueller and colleagues shows that men are also more likely than women to frame their research findings positively (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6573). The answer isn’t to encourage women to do the same, say Julie Silver and colleagues in an accompanying editorial (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6692), but to help men exercise restraint.

Finally, do consider donating to our Christmas charity appeal. This year we are supporting WaterAid (doi:10.1136/bmj.l6977). Please give generously and joyously to help make access to clean water and good sanitation a reality for everyone.