Michelle Lau is a resident medical officer currently working at Nepean Hospital in New South Wales, Australia. She has a keen interest in clinical governance and improvement in the welfare of junior doctors and doctors in training. She believes that it is crucial to sustain and support the mental health of junior doctors, given they are pave the future for the healthcare of the general population. Her area of interest is in the mental health and wellbeing of her fellow residents and interns, who are a high risk group known for working long hours and manage high stress situations in the workplace.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of psychological distress in Australian Junior Medical Officers (JMOs) and investigate the determinants associated with psychological\r\ndistress over a three year (2014-2016) period.\r\nMethods: JMOs were surveyed using the 2014-2016 JMO Census (n=220, 399, and 466 each year, response rate approximately 15%). Levels of psychological distress were assessed using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). A K10≥ 25 was chosen to indicate high psychological distress and this determinant was compared to various demographic and work-related factors.\r\nResults: Australian JMOs experience a high level of psychological distress (mean of 18.1, median 16.0). There were no differences in demographical variables such as age, sex, marital status, dependents and between PGY 1 and 2. Increasing hours worked per week was associated with a higher K10, with every hour worked increasing odds by 3%. Attitudinal items including feeling unwilling to study medicine again, feeling poorly trained, and experiences of bullying were related to high psychological distress. Coping strategies like exercise and spending time with friends correlated positively with lower distress, whilst time\r\noff work, frequent alcohol use, smoking and drug use were associated with increased distress levels. 54.5% of those with a high K10 indicated that they did not use any form of\r\nprofessional support. 17.83% expressed that given their time again, they would not choose to study medicine.\r\n Implications: A focused approach to JMO support and education regarding significant risk factors identified is likely to assist health policies that aim to improve the mental wellbeing of Australian JMOs.\r\n