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Counselling aids burnt-out doctors


12 November, 2008  

Burn-out and sick leave among doctors can be significantly reduced by short-term counselling, according to a study published on bmj.com.

Doctors and GPs are known to suffer high rates of depression and suicide, and there have been calls for intervention before problems interfere with patient welfare.

Dr Karin Ro and colleagues in Norway have examined the reduction in emotional exhaustion after one year in 227 burnt-out doctors who took part in voluntary counselling.

A year later the doctors reported less emotional exhaustion and job stress, and the number on full-time sick leave had been reduced substantially.

The use of psychotherapy also increased in the follow-up year, from 20% to 53%, while a reduction in working hours after counselling was also associated with a drop in emotional exhaustion.

The authors conclude: “Our findings indicate that seeking a counselling intervention could be conducive to reduction of burn-out among doctors. Considering doctors’ reluctance to seek help, it is important to offer interventions that facilitate access.”

Copyright Press Association 2008

bmj.com