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‘6 of 10 resident docs suffer from work-related stress’

By Rupsa Chakraborty, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON NOV 27, 2019 01:40 AM IST

At city’s four major municipal hospitals, which are attached to medical colleges, six out of 10 resident doctors suffer from work-related physical and mental exhaustion, found a study recently published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine.

The authors of the study, which was published in the second week of November, are Dr Archana Hemant Dhusia, Dr Prita Abhay Dhaimade, Dr Apurva Ambuj Jain, Dr Samar Salim Shemna and Dr Prerana Nirmal Dubey. All five are senior resident doctors. For the study, they interviewed 300 resident doctors at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion; Dr RN Cooper Municipal General Hospital, Vile Parle; BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, Mumbai Central; and King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, Parel.

Postgraduate students work for 12 hours daily, leading to physical fatigue and emotional exhaustion. Of those interviewed, 56% of resident doctors suffer from patient-related burnout syndrome, which is a combination of physical fatigue and emotional exhaustion that can impact the doctors’ working efficiency.

As per National Health Profile 2018, the ratio of doctors to patients is around 1:11,082 in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a ratio of 1:1000. “Due to a shortage of doctors and overloading of patients, residents have to work [long] hours in hospitals. Along with that, they also have academic pressures,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, a psychiatrist and former president of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).

Of the total number of respondents, 66.67% said their personal relationships were strained because of work pressure and 57.14% said their stress levels affect their work. With 16.67% admitting to “patient-related burnout” – attributed to various factors including frustration that they could not provide adequate care to patients – the survey found highest levels of exhaustion among doctors attending to wards and the OPD. “While residents catering to extensive daily outpatient department of patients showed higher client-related burnout, it was less prominent among residents working in surgical and ICU settings,” reads the report.

Female respondents reported higher levels of exhaustion than their male counterparts, which the study said was due to women facing “higher domestic expectations and responsibilities”. Fifty percent of the respondents felt they didn’t have enough energy for their family or to socialise and over 57% respondents felt they gave more than they got back from patients.

“Most doctors stay away from home and have hardly any personal or social life. Other than physical adversities like hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, lack of energy, they also suffer from emotional distress like anxiety, depression,” said MARD president and resident doctor Dr Kalyani Dongre.

The study advocates counselling and stress management techniques for doctors to help them achieve a work-life balance. In 2016, the Maharashtra University of Health Science (MUHS) issued a circular to all medical colleges to hold mental check-ups for resident doctors, but it hasn’t been implemented. Residents have also raised the need for better living conditions in hostels and improved security, which have been seconded by the Indian Medical Association (IMA). “The hostel conditions are horrible. There is no proper security. We often see how doctors are beaten up by patients’ relatives,” said Dr Prakash S Borane, president of IMA, Mumbai.

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