Certain personality traits, demographic and work related
factors increase the likelihood that doctors will develop mental illness or
hazardous alcohol habits according to a study published in the Medical
Journal of Australia.
Dr Louise Nash, from the New South Wales Institute of
Psychiatry and University of Sydney and co-authors conducted a study to
identify factors associated with psychiatric morbidity and hazardous alcohol
use in Australian doctors. A total of 2999 doctors participated in the study.
Dr Nash said that the mental health of medical practitioners
is crucial to the quality of care their patients receive.
"Factors significantly associated with psychiatric morbidity
in doctors included having a current medicolegal matter, not taking a holiday
in the previous year, working long hours, type of specialty, and having the
personality traits of neuroticism or introversion," Dr Nash said.
"Factors significantly associated with potentially hazardous
alcohol use were being male, being Australian-trained, being aged between 40
and 59 years, having the personality traits of neuroticism or extroversion,
failing to meet Continuing Medical Education requirements, and being a solo
Dr Nash said that, although personality traits contributed
highly to doctors developing a mental illness and hazardous alcohol habits, she
highlighted that the work related factors could not be ignored.
"Unlike personality traits, the work-related and lifestyle
factors associated with psychiatric morbidity and hazardous alcohol use are
more easily addressed," Dr Nash said.
"Doctors should reflect on their hours of work and need for
"Doctors need to be educated about medicolegal processes and
understand how the experience may affect their health, their work and their
The Medical Journal of Australia
is a publication of
the Australian Medical Association.