A very interesting (but concerning) study has been published in this month’s BMJ Open – ‘Does occupational distress raise the risk of alcohol use, binge-eating, ill health and sleep problems among medical doctors? A UK cross-sectional study’
The study findings include:
44% of doctors binge-drink and 5% meet the criteria for alcohol dependence;
24%–29% experience negative emotions after overeating and 8% have a binge-eating disorder;
20%–61% have some type of sleep problem and 12% have severe/moderate insomnia;
69% have fatigue;
19%–29% experience other types of ill health problems.
The results indicate that occupational distress and job factors increase the odds of doctors using substances, having sleep problems, presenting with frequent symptoms of ill health and binge-eating.
Doctors (and dentists) experiencing mental ill health or substance misuse can contact the NHS Practitioner Health Programme for support and/or the Healthcare Team at Brabners if their difficulty has developed into a fitness to practise case. However, the percentages revealed by the study indicate that Matt Hancock needs to urgently progress his pledge to overhaul mental health and wellbeing support for NHS staff.
The BMJ Open study can be accessed here.