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01-04-2014 | Short Communication | Uitgave 2/2014 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 2/2014

Junior doctors in their first year: mental health, quality of life, burnout and heart rate variability

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 2/2014
Marcus A. Henning, John Sollers, Joanna M. Strom, Andrew G. Hill, Mataroria P. Lyndon, David Cumin, Susan J. Hawken


There is a burgeoning interest in, and evidence of, quality of life and burnout issues among doctors. It was hypothesized that the junior doctors in this study would experience psychosocial and physiological changes over time, and that the obtained measures would indicate psychosocial and physiological anomalies. In addition, it was hypothesized that their psychosocial perceptions would be significantly associated with their physiological measures. A total sample of 17 junior doctors in their first year of training volunteered for this study. Over four time periods separated by 6 week phases, the doctors completed a set of quality of life and psychosocial inventories and wore a Polar RS800 Heart Rate Monitor over a day and night time interval. The findings showed that this sample of doctors did not report any problems associated with depression, anxiety, stress, burnout or quality of life (psychosocial measures). In addition, their heart rate variability scores (physiological measures) did not show any significant fluctuations. Furthermore, the responses from the self-report instruments measuring stress, anxiety, depression, quality of life and burnout did not consistently correlate with the HRV information suggesting a mind–body disconnection. More work needs to be done on larger samples to investigate these findings further given that the literature shows that junior doctors are likely to be stressed and working in stress-provoking environments.
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