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Prevalence and predictors of mental health outcomes in UK doctors and final year medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic

Johns, Gemma, Waddington, Louise and Samuel, Victoria 2022. Prevalence and predictors of mental health outcomes in UK doctors and final year medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Affective Disorders 311 , pp. 267-275. 10.1016/j.jad.2022.05.024

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Background The mental health of doctors is an ongoing concern, both prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to: i) assess the prevalence of symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and burnout in UK doctors and final year medical students during the pandemic, and ii) analyse the hypothesised relationships between psychological flexibility, intolerance of uncertainty and resilience with these mental health outcomes. Methods A cross-sectional online study of UK-based doctors and final year medical students was conducted between 27/09/2020 and 31/01/2021. Outcomes were measured using the PHQ9, GAD7, PCL-5, and aMBI. Independent variables included the CompACT-SF, IUS-12, and CD-RISC-10. Descriptive statistics, between-group analyses, and multiple regression were performed. Results Prevalence of anxiety symptoms was 26.3%, depression 21.9%, PTSD 11.8%, and burnout 10.8%. Psychological flexibility negatively predicted all outcomes, apart from low personal achievement. Intolerance of uncertainty positively predicted anxiety and PTSD scores. Resilience negatively predicted scores on burnout subscales. Limitations Cross-sectional design and non-probability sampling method means that assumptions about causality cannot be made and may have implications for bias and generalisability of results. Conclusion Doctors and medical students in the UK reported high levels of mental health symptoms during the pandemic, between September 2020 and January 2021. All three independent variables explained significant variance in mental health outcomes. Psychological flexibility was the most consistent predictor, over and above sociodemographic variables and other psychological predictors. These findings have implications for interventions to improve retention of our essential medical workforce, and for providing support at future times of national crisis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0165-0327
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 June 2022
Date of Acceptance: 5 May 2022
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 19:33

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