How do they cope? A national cross-sectional study of coping in hospital doctors in Ireland
Ailbhe Doherty, Lucia Prihodova, Gillian Walsh, Blánaid Hayes
British Medical Journal Open Science
School of Health and Human Performance

The purpose of this study is to measure coping strategies and associated psychological distress, burnout and work ability in hospital doctors in Ireland on a national scale. DCU has partnered with the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service at the Rotunda Hospital, the National Office for Research Ethics Committees and RCSI.

The coping mechanism most frequently reported by this cohort was the adaptive strategy of active planning. Increased mean hours worked a low Work Ability Score and maladaptive coping strategies were significantly associated with psychological distress. Adaptive coping was associated with decreased psychological distress. Increased MHW, insufficient work ability and maladaptive coping  were significantly associated with burnout. Increased MHW and maladaptive coping were significantly associated with insufficient work ability.

Adaptive coping is associated with decreased psychological distress but does not mitigate the effect of increased work hours, which are associated with burnout, distress and insufficient work ability, regardless of a doctor’s coping style. The burden of psychological distress on doctors cannot be mitigated meaningfully unless workplace factors are addressed.