Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Job stress and mental health problems contribute to higher rates of physician suicide

Date:
November 12, 2012
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
Despite high access to health care, doctors are less likely to seek mental health treatment; trouble at work is associated with higher suicide risk for physicians, according to new research.

Doctors who commit suicide appear to be under-treated for mental health problems, despite their seemingly good access to health care, a new University of Michigan study shows.

Although more physicians than non-physicians in the study had known mental health problems prior to suicide, this didn't translate into a higher rate of antidepressant use, according to the study, which appears in General Hospital Psychiatry and provides a deeper look at why physicians may have a higher-than-average suicide rate.

Major depression is a known risk factor for suicide, particularly for female physicians.

Stigma, lack of confidentiality, and desire to self-treat may explain why physicians don't seek formal treatment for mental health problems, says lead author Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S., assistant professor of family medicine and of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

The study found that physicians who committed suicide were much more likely to have potentially lethal prescription medications in their system -- but not medication prescribed for depression.

"Even though this population presumably has very good access to health care, it doesn't appear that they're getting adequate treatment," Gold says. "I think stigma about mental health is a huge part of the story. There is a belief that physicians should be able to avoid depression or just 'get over it' by themselves."

Other findings:

  • There was a difference in methods for suicide. Firearms were the No. 1 method for both groups. The No. 2 method for physicians was an overdose, likely related to the physicians' knowledge of lethal drug dosing and prescribing ability.
  • On-the-job stress could also be a bigger suicide risk factor for physicians, according to the study. A physician who commits suicide is far less likely to have had a recent death of a friend or family member or a crisis contribute to the suicide but much more likely to have a job problem contribute. Gold says this finding suggests that a physician's identity is strongly linked to the job role and physicians may be particularly vulnerable to problems at work.

The U-M study follows up work from another U-M Family Medicine study that addressed risk factors for stress and burnout among medical students.

"This paints a more detailed picture of external events and risk factors in a physician's life before a suicide, rather than just looking at a death certificate," Gold says.

"We've seen a number of studies now that show a high rate of anxiety, depression and burnout among both medical students and physicians but we haven't done very much to develop programs to reduce or treat these risk factors and to increase mental health-seeking among physicians," Gold adds.

"There needs to be greater effort to address the stigma, under-diagnosis and treatment of depression among physicians and understand how we can reduce the stress related to work. We need to make mental health treatment more available, safe and confidential."

Additional authors: Thomas L.Schwenk, M.D., former chair of U-M's Department of Family Medicine, now dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine and vice president of the University of Nevada, Reno, Division of Health Sciences; and Ananda Sen, Ph.D., research associate professor in the U-M Department of Family Medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Katherine J. Gold, Ananda Sen, Thomas L. Schwenk. Details on suicide among US physicians: data from the National Violent Death Reporting System. General Hospital Psychiatry, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2012.08.005

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "Job stress and mental health problems contribute to higher rates of physician suicide." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112101400.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2012, November 12). Job stress and mental health problems contribute to higher rates of physician suicide. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112101400.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "Job stress and mental health problems contribute to higher rates of physician suicide." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121112101400.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Richard van As lost all fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident. Now, he's used the incident to create a prosthetic to help hundreds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins