WELLINGTON— Burnout, depression and anxiety are increasingly common among New Zealand doctors, which impair their ability to perform at home and at work, a common contributor to suicide risk, the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) said on Friday.
Burnout has been documented to affect 45 percent in a consultant survey in one New Zealand hospital prior to Covid-19, and this is likely to have increased with the present frustrating work environment caused by the pandemic, according to an editorial by researchers of the University of Otago, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.
Overseas countries have found increased mental health issues among doctors in the present phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, the NZMA said.
“Documentation of increased suicide risk among doctors dates back to the 19th century. Estimates of suicide vary but are generally considered to be higher than the general population,” it said.
Complaints and disciplinary processes are also burdens that weigh heavily on doctors, increasing their risk. Interventions such as reducing workload and improving teamwork appear to be the most effective at improving doctor’s mental health, while mindfulness and general stress management training give only minor benefits, it noted.
“In New Zealand the use of confidential counselling services has increased significantly in the last few years, but some doctors avoid treatment as they fear sanctions,” the NZMA said.
The editorial recommends a system wide approach, saying that the creation of the new organization, Health New Zealand, is an ideal time to address the “pathogenic” culture in which doctors work. XINHUA