A new study has highlighted that emotionally demanding workloads and confrontational patients are among the key stressors for GPs.
Carolyn Chew-Graham, Professor of General Practice at Keele University, worked with colleagues at the University of Birmingham, University of Bristol and University College London to analyse feedback from general practitioners (GPs), published today in BMJ Open.
The emotional impact of daily workload, dysfunctional working relationships and interactions with very demanding or, sometimes, abusive patients add to existing stressors already facing family doctors in England.
All this suggests that rising workload and long working hours form only part of the high levels of workplace stress and burnout widely reported among GPs, say the study authors.
Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, who is also Director of Clinical Academic Training at Keele, explained:
"Our study demonstrated that many GPs are working with symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress and burnout, and may not be supported within their current practices. This work highlights the need for formal support or supervision for GPs as a routine part of their practice. “We are grateful to the NIHR School of Primary Care Research for funding this study, which we feel is important in highlighting the key causes of stress and distress for general practitioners."
Dysfunctional working relationships and unsupportive colleagues, combined with the fear of making mistakes, patient complaints, and inspections, contribute to the stressful mix, suggesting that rising workload and long working hours form only part of the high levels of workplace stress and burnout widely reported among GPs.
The findings are based on in-depth interviews with 47 GPs exploring wellbeing and how well they cope with workplace stressors.