Sources of work-related psychological distress experienced by UK-wide foundation and junior doctors: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • R Riley
  • M Buszewicz
  • F Kokab
  • K Teoh
  • A Gopfert
  • AK Taylor
  • M Van Hove
  • J Martin
  • C Chew-Graham


Objectives This paper reports findings exploring work cultures, contexts and conditions associated with psychological distress in foundation and junior doctors. Design Qualitative study using in-depth interviews with 21 junior doctor participants. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, anonymised and imported into NVivo V.11 to facilitate data management. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis employing the constant comparative method. Setting NHS in England. Participants A purposive sample of 16 female and five male junior doctor junior doctor participants who self-identified as having stress, distress, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, or having attempted to kill themselves. Results Analysis reported four key themes: (1) workload and working conditions; (2) toxic work cultures - including abuse and bullying, sexism and racism, culture of blaming and shaming; (3) lack of support; (4) stigma and a perceived need to appear invulnerable. Conclusion This study highlights the need for future solutions and interventions targeted at improving work cultures and conditions. There needs to be greater recognition of the components and cumulative effects of potentially toxic workplaces and stressors intrinsic to the work of junior doctors, such as the stress of managing high workloads and lack of access to clinical and emotional support. A cultural shift is needed within medicine to more supportive and compassionate leadership and work environments, and a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalBJ Psych Open
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2021