The National Study of Wellbeing of Hospital Doctors in Ireland

This national study, launched in 2014, aims to assess the wellbeing of hospital doctors across Ireland and get a deep understanding of what it’s like to work as a hospital doctor in Ireland today.

As well as examining the causes of stress in the workplace, we are collecting data on doctors’ lifestyle choices, interpersonal relationships and rates of mental health problems, including burnout, depression, anxiety and substance misuse.

This study is a collaborative project governed by a multi-stakeholder steering group that includes representatives from the RCPI, RCSI, College of Anaesthetists, College of Psychiatry, Irish Association of Emergency Medicine and Dublin City University (DCU). 

Why It Matters

The physical and mental wellbeing of doctors is important not just to the individual doctor but to wider society.

It is globally documented that doctors have a high prevalence of psychological morbidity and that their working life is stressful. Ireland is no exception. 

To date, there has been a lack of research into the health and wellbeing of doctors in this country, including the challenges posed by stress, mental ill health and addiction.

The results of this study will help guide employer and training body policies on doctors’ mental health.

“As an occupational physician I know first-hand this is a problem because I see it in my practice and I hear it from colleagues in other hospitals too. Frontline healthcare workers and clinicians are presenting with mood disorders and stress-related conditions which are at least in part related to staff shortages and increased working hours.”

Dr Blánaid Hayes

Consultant Occupational Physician, Beaumont Hospital
Doctor working on computer.

Study Phases

This data collection for this study was carried out in three stages.


1. Delphi study
A preliminary Delphi study sought opinion on the key stressors for doctors within their particular specialty. A ‘shortlist’ of stressors was incorporated into the main study questionnaire.

Read the findings of the delphi study


2. Randomised, cross-sectional questionnaire study
A national, randomised, cross-sectional questionnaire study was carried out in April 2014. Email and postal surveys were circulated to more than 3,000 doctors in Anaesthesia, Emergency Medicine, all internal medical specialties, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Surgery, Pathology and Psychiatry. The questionnaire measured the prevalence of stress, depression, anxiety and burnout. The response rate was 57%.

Read the findings of this study here


3. Qualitative data
Interviews were held with trainee doctors and consultants to capture qualitative data relating to stressors, coping strategies, how support was accessed when in difficulty, and preferred pathways to care. This analysis of these interviews is currently ongoing.


National Study of Wellbeing of Hospital Doctors in Ireland

Read the full text of National Study of Wellbeing of Hospital Doctors in Ireland published 2 May 2017

Meet the Researchers

This project is being led by Dr Blánaid Hayes, Consultant Occupational Physician, Beaumont Hospital and Gillian Walsh, Research Manager, RCPI.

Dr. Blanaid Hayes

Dr. Blanaid Hayes

Consultant Occupational Physician

Dr Lucia Prihodova

Manager, Research Department

Tel: +353 1 863 9645

Dr Lucia Prihodova is the Research Manager at the at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Lucia holds a PhD from the Faculty of Medicine at University of Groningen, Netherlands and her research focuses on various aspects of health systems related to work environment, workforce training and wellbeing and patient outcomes.  

RCPI Research

RCPI Research

Tel: +353 1 836 9700