Working as a doctor when chronically ill or disabled: comments made by doctors responding to UK surveys.
Smith F., Goldacre MJ., Lambert TW.
OBJECTIVES: To report a qualitative study of themes doctors raised spontaneously, in a large-scale prospective cohort study covering many aspects of their medical careers, when referring to their own chronic illness or disability. DESIGN: Questionnaire survey. SETTING: UK. PARTICIPANTS: Questionnaires were sent one, five and 10 years after graduation to 44,539 doctors who qualified between 1993 and 2012 in the UK: 38,613 questionnaires were returned and 11,859 respondents provided comments made by doctors about their training or work. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The comments of 123 doctors about their own chronic illness or disability. RESULTS: Main themes raised included poor support for doctors with chronic illness or disability, delays in and changes to careers (either planned ahead or imposed), the impact of pressure at work, difficulties returning to work after illness, limitations on career choices and inadequate careers advice for doctors with chronic illness or disabilities. CONCLUSIONS: More needs to be done to ensure that doctors with chronic illness or disability receive appropriate support. Occupational health guidance should be monitored closely, with more support for ill doctors including adjustments to the job, help if needed with morale and mental health, and advice on career options. Further studies should establish the prevalence of long-term health conditions among doctors.