Recommendations for improving the working conditions and cultures of distressed junior doctors, based on a qualitative study and stakeholder perspectives

J. Spiers*, F. Kokab, M. Buszewicz, C.A. Chew-Graham, A. Dunning, A.K. Taylor, A. Gopfert, M. van Hove, K.R.-H. Teoh, L. Appleby, J. Martin, R. Riley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Doctors, including junior doctors, are vulnerable to greater levels of distress and mental health difficulties than the public. This is exacerbated by their working conditions and cultures. While this vulnerability has been known for many years, little action has been taken to protect and support junior doctors working in the NHS. As such, we present a series of recommendations from the perspective of junior doctors and other relevant stakeholders, designed to improve junior doctors’ working conditions and, thus, their mental health.

Methods: We interviewed 36 junior doctors, asking them for recommendations for improving their working conditions and culture. Additionally, we held an online stakeholder meeting with a variety of healthcare professionals (including junior doctors), undergraduate medical school leads, postgraduate speciality school leads and NHS policymakers where we asked what could be done to improve junior doctors’ working conditions. We combined interview data with notes from the stakeholder discussions to produce this set of recommendations.

Results: Junior doctor participants and stakeholders made organisational and interpersonal recommendations. Organisational recommendations include the need for more environmental, staff and educational resources as well as changes to rotas. Interpersonal recommendations include changes to communication and recommendations for better support and teamwork.

Conclusion: We suggest that NHS policymakers, employers and managers consider and hopefully implement the recommendations set out by the study participants and stakeholders as reported in this paper and that the gold standards of practice which are reported here (such as examples of positive learning environments and supportive supervision) are showcased so that others can learn from them.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1333
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Junior doctors
  • Mental health
  • Recommendations
  • Qualitative research

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