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Resilience in medical doctors: a systematic review
  1. Nicola McKinley1,
  2. Paul Nicholas Karayiannis2,
  3. Liam Convie1,
  4. Mike Clarke3,
  5. Stephen J Kirk1,
  6. William Jeffrey Campbell1
  1. 1 General Surgery, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, UK
  2. 2 Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK
  3. 3 Queen’s University Belfast Centre for Public Health, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicola McKinley, General Surgery, Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, UK; nmckinley01{at}


Introduction Resilience can be difficult to conceptualise and little is known about resilience in medical doctors.

Aims This systematic review discusses the existing literature on influences on resilience levels of medical doctors.

Methods The bibliographic databases PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsycINFO were searched from 2008 to November 2018 using keyword search terms resilience* AND (“medical physician*” OR doctor* OR surgeon* OR medical trainee* or clinician*).

Results Twenty-four studies were deemed eligible for inclusion. A narrative synthesis was performed. The following influences on resilience in doctors were identified: demographics, personality factors, organisational or environmental factors, social support, leisure activities, overcoming previous adversity and interventions to improve resilience.

Conclusions Resilience is not limited to a doctor’s own personal resource. Published studies also highlight the influence of other modifiable factors.

  • resilience (psychological)
  • doctor
  • physician
  • clinician
  • psychological wellbeing
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  • Contributors NM designed the study and the search strategy. NM and PNK were responsible for conducting the search and analysing the search results. The initial draft of the manuscript was prepared by NM then circulated among PNK, LC, MC, SJK and WJC for critical revision. NM, PNK, LC, MC, SJK and WJC helped to evolve analysis plans, interpret data and critically revise successive drafts of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of this manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

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