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Objective To report on any adverse effects on health and wellbeing of working as a doctor, as described by senior doctors. Design Questionnaires sent in 2014 to all medical graduates of 1974 and 1977. Participants 3695 UK medical graduates. Setting United Kingdom. Main outcome measures Statements about adverse effects upon health, wellbeing and career. Results The aggregated response rate from contactable doctors was 84.6% (3695/4369). In response to the question 'Do you feel that working as a doctor has had any adverse effects on your own health or wellbeing?', 44% of doctors answered 'yes'. More GPs (47%) than hospital doctors (42%) specified that this was the case. Three-quarters of doctors who answered 'yes' cited 'stress/work-life balance/workload' as an adverse effect, and 45% mentioned illness. In response to the statement 'The NHS of today is a good employer when doctors become ill themselves', 28% of doctors agreed, 29% neither agreed nor disagreed and 43% disagreed. More women doctors (49%) than men doctors (40%) disagreed with this statement. More general practitioners (49%) disagreed than hospital doctors (37%). Conclusions Chronic stress and illness, which these doctors attributed to their work, were widely reported. Although recent changes may have alleviated some of these issues, there are lessons for the present and future if the NHS is to ensure that its medical workforce receives the support which enables current doctors to enjoy a full and satisfying career and to contribute fully to health service provision in the UK. Older doctors, in particular, need support to be able to continue successfully in their careers.

Original publication




Journal article


J R Soc Med

Publication Date





198 - 207


Medical careers, career choice, non-clinical, physicians, workforce, Aged, Attitude of Health Personnel, Career Choice, Chronic Disease, Female, Health Status, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Physicians, Retirement, State Medicine, Stress, Psychological, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom, Workload