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How are hospital doctors coping?

How are hospital doctors coping?

Dr Blánaid Hayes and her co-authors recently published the results of a large study on coping in hospital doctors that suggests doctors typically choose adaptive, rather than maladaptive coping strategies to tackle the multiple challenges they face in their working day.

The findings are reassuring – doctors who are under immense pressure are generally able to employ adaptive coping strategies, such as positive reframing, planning and emotional support, that can enable them to deal with a situation and move forward in a positive way.

However, Dr Hayes argues that being an adaptive coper does not mitigate the effect of increased working hours, which are associated with burnout and psychological distress, regardless of a doctor’s coping style.

“Being able to actively implement adaptive coping strategies is excellent but we can’t expect doctors to continue to do that in a system that is pitted against them,” Dr Hayes said.

“It is almost a decade since the National Study of Wellbeing of Hospital Doctors in Ireland was undertaken, yet we continue to see high levels of psychological distress, occupational stress and burnout, as well as poor work-life balance among the country’s hospital doctors, levels far higher than most other similar developed economies.”

Dr Hayes applauds the postgraduate medical training bodies who are championing the topic of wellbeing and encouraging the prioritisation of self-care and looks forward to more systemic improvements to address the ongoing challenges faced by hospital doctors. 

The full research paper, written by Ailbhe Doherty, Lucia Prihodova, Gillian Walsh and Blánaid Hayes, is available here