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A study of the relationship between resilience, burnout and coping strategies in doctors
  1. R Scott McCain1,
  2. Nicola McKinley1,
  3. Martin Dempster2,
  4. W Jeffrey Campbell1,
  5. Stephen J Kirk1
  1. 1Department of General Surgery, Ulster Hospital, Belfast, UK
  2. 2School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr R Scott McCain, Department of General Surgery, Ulster Hospital, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT16 1RH, UK; smccain01{at}qub.ac.uk

Abstract

Purpose of the study The aim of this study was to measure resilience, coping and professional quality of life in doctors.

Study design A cross-sectional study using an online questionnaire in a single National Health Service trust, including both primary and secondary care doctors.

Results 283 doctors were included. Mean resilience was 68.9, higher than population norms. 100 (37%) doctors had high burnout, 194 (72%) doctors had high secondary traumatic stress and 64 (24%) had low compassion satisfaction. Burnout was positively associated with low resilience, low compassion satisfaction, high secondary traumatic stress and more frequent use of maladaptive coping mechanisms, including self-blame, behavioural disengagement and substance use. Non-clinical issues in the workplace were the main factor perceived to cause low resilience in doctors.

Conclusions Despite high levels of resilience, doctors had high levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress. Doctors suffering from burnout were more likely to use maladaptive coping mechanisms. As doctors already have high resilience, improving personal resilience further may not offer much benefit to professional quality of life. A national study of professional Quality of Life, Coping And REsilience, which we are proposing to undertake, will for the first time assess the UK and Ireland medical workforce in this regard and guide future targeted interventions to improve professional quality of life.

  • Human Resource Management
  • Mental Health
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Footnotes

  • Contributors SM and NM contributed equally to this study and can be considered joint first authors. SM designed the study, designed data collection tools, monitored data collection, cleaned and analysed the data and drafted and revised the paper. NM designed the study, designed data collection tools, monitored data collection and drafted and revised the paper. MD designed the study, analysed the data and revised the draft paper. WJC designed the study, analysed the data and revised the paper. SJK designed the study, monitored data collection, analysed the data and revised the paper.

  • Disclaimer The lead author SJK acts as the guarantor and affirms that the manuscript is an honest, accurate, and transparent account of the study being reported. No important aspects of the study have been omitted and there have been no discrepancies from the study as planned.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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