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Study Links Personality Traits to Mental Illness, Alcohol Usage in Doctors

by VR Sreeraman on August 1, 2010 at 12:03 PM
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 Study Links Personality Traits to Mental Illness, Alcohol Usage in Doctors

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.

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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.
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"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 practitioner."

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 holidays.

"Doctors need to be educated about medicolegal processes and understand how the experience may affect their health, their work and their loved ones."

The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.

Source: MJA
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