• Vol. 41 No. 10, 444–450
  • 15 October 2012

The Health-Related Quality of Life of Junior Doctors



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Introduction: It is reported that junior doctors experience a large amount of work-related stress and fatigue which has detrimental effects on their well-being and patient safety. We seek to determine the health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) of junior doctors using the Short Form 36 Health Survey (SF-36) and compare their HR-QoL with that of populations of norms and senior doctors.

Materials and Methods: The SF-36v2 (Singapore version) was self-administered to a convenience sample of 213 doctors from a large tertiary teaching hospital. Junior doctors were defined as those less than 30 years of age (48%). Adjusted normative values were derived from the SF-36 Norms for the Singapore General Population Calculator for all 8 scales. The mean score differences between junior doctors and their adjusted normative values as well as that for senior doctors were computed and contrasted.

Results: One hundred and eighty-five doctors fully responded. Their mean age was 33.6 years (SD 8.1). Also, 45% were female and 88% were Chinese. Junior doctors had lower scores than senior doctors in all scales except Physical Functioning. After adjustment for gender and race, junior doctors had statistically significant lower Mental Health scores than senior doctors (P = 0.01). Compared with the normative population, junior doctors scored lower in all domains except for Physical Functioning. For Vitality, the difference is – 14.9.

Conclusion: Junior doctors have poorer mental health scores compared to senior doctors. Also, the lower vitality scores suggest that junior doctors are more likely to be fatigued than their normative population. More studies and efforts will be needed to identify factors that affect the quality of life in junior doctors and to evaluate the most appropriate measures to improve the efficiency of their work.

It is widely reported that junior doctors experience a large amount of work-related stress and fatigue. This has detrimental effects both on the well-being of the junior physicians and the health and well-being of the patients that they are treating. Junior doctors, especially those undergoing traineeship, have shown high degrees of burnout and psychiatric morbidity, attributable to the high level of stress they experienced. Junior doctors have reported low job satisfaction, increased absenteeism, impaired family life, increased alcoholism and even increased risk of traffic accidents. Other serious psychiatric consequences that have been reported among junior doctors include depression and obsessive-compulsive behaviour.

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