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Understanding doctors' attitudes towards self-disclosure of mental ill health

Cohen, Deborah, Winstanley, Sarah and Greene, Giles ORCID: 2016. Understanding doctors' attitudes towards self-disclosure of mental ill health. Occupational Medicine 66 (5) , pp. 383-389. 10.1093/occmed/kqw024

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Background Understanding of doctors’ attitudes towards disclosing their own mental illness has improved but assumptions are still made. Aims To investigate doctors’ attitudes to disclosing mental illness and the obstacles and enablers to seeking support. Methods An anonymous, UK-wide online survey of doctors with and without a history of mental illness. The main outcome measure was likelihood of workplace disclosure of mental illness. Results In total, 1954 doctors responded and 60% had experienced mental illness. There was a discrepancy between how doctors think they might behave and how they actually behaved when experiencing mental illness. Younger doctors were least likely to disclose, as were trainees. There were multiple obstacles which varied across age and training grade. Conclusions For all doctors, regardless of role, this study found that what they think they would do is different to what they actually do when they become unwell. Trainees, staff and associate speciality doctors and locums appeared most vulnerable, being reluctant to disclose mental ill health. Doctors continued to have concerns about disclosure and a lack of care pathways was evident. Concerns about being labelled, confidentiality and not understanding the support structures available were identified as key obstacles to disclosure. Addressing obstacles and enablers is imperative to shape future interventions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Health behaviour physician health physician impairment mental health survey.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0962-7480
Funders: Wales Deanery
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 October 2016
Date of Acceptance: 24 February 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 11:33

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