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Stress and recovery in junior doctors
  1. Elke Ochsmann1,2,
  2. Jessica Lang1,
  3. Hans Drexler2,
  4. Klaus Schmid2
  1. 1Institute of Occupational and Social Medicine, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  2. 2Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elke Ochsmann, Institute of Occupational and Social Medicine, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstrasse 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany; eochsmann{at}


Objective Junior doctors are thought to experience increased mental strain in comparison to other occupations. The aim of the present study was to analyse selected work related influencing factors of strain and recovery in junior doctors.

Methods In September 2006, 1494 young doctors were asked to participate in a postal questionnaire study featuring the Recovery Stress Questionnaire (RESTQ) and additional questions on job specific risk factors. Using hierarchical linear regression analyses the answers of 637 participants with less than 1.5 years work experience in patient care were analysed.

Results Results revealed that overtime work, as well as lack of performance related feedback from supervisors, were consistently related to increased levels of strain among junior doctors. These risk factors were also predominantly related to recovery. In addition, feedback from colleagues was significantly associated with the recovery sub-scales (except with sleep quality).

Conclusions Overtime work and performance related feedback from supervisors seem to be important work related factors concerning junior doctors' levels of strain and recovery. In addition, performance feedback from colleagues seems to be a major resource for recovery. The findings have implications regarding work time regulations and the necessity of leadership skill development training regarding feedback talks and fostering a desirable social climate in the healthcare system for the wellbeing of junior doctors.

  • Stress
  • strain
  • recovery
  • junior doctors
  • education & training (see medical education & training)
  • human resource management
  • occupational & industrial medicine

Statistics from


  • Funding German Medical Association, Bavarian Medical Association.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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