One in four new doctors may be depressed, and their patients may suffer because of it

Dec 11, 2015

Source: University of Michigan Health System

More than one in four doctors in the early stages of their careers has signs of depression, a comprehensive new study finds. And the grueling years of training for a medical career may deserve some of the blame.

That’s bad news not just for the young doctors themselves, but also for the patients they care for now and in the future. Depressed doctors are known to be more likely to make mistakes or give worse care.

The startling findings come from a careful investigation of 50 years’ worth of studies that looked for depression symptoms in more than 17,500 medical residents.

It’s published in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by a team led by a current resident at Harvard and a University of Michigan Medical School psychiatrist who specializes in studying physician mental health.

The team aimed to find definitive answers to questions that have been studied many times and in many ways: What percentage of new doctors might be depressed, and how much does that change over time?

By collecting and combining data from 54 studies done around the world, the researchers concluded that 28.8 percent of physicians-in-training have signs of depression.


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