Burnout, depression and job dissatisfaction high in young doctors in Hong Kong

Dr Margaret Shi
25 Oct 2021
Burnout, depression and job dissatisfaction high in young doctors in Hong Kong

A cross-sectional study finds high prevalence of burnout, depression and dissatisfaction with current job position among young doctors in Hong Kong.

The study, conducted between February and June 2019, included data collected from 514 young doctors (mean age, 33.7 years; female, 53.9 percent) who were either residents in training (n=230) or within 10 years of their specialist registration (n=284). Data were collected through a self-administered online questionnaire developed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Innovative Learning Centre for Medicine of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine. [Hong Kong Med J 2021;doi:10.12809/hkmj219610]

A majority (77.8 percent) of respondents worked in the Hospital Authority (HA), 57.0 percent worked as a medical officer, and 19.3 percent specialized in family medicine or were in general practice. Almost half of the respondents (47.1 percent) were either single, separated or divorced.

Personal burnout, work-related burnout and client-related burnout (ie, Copenhagen Burnout Inventory [CBI] ≥50 for each subscale) was reported in 72.6 percent, 70.6 percent and 55.4 percent of respondents, respectively.

The overall prevalence of depression (ie, Patient Health Questionnaire-9 [PHQ-9] score >9) was higher in young doctors compared with the general population (21.0 percent vs 8.4 percent). [HK Pract 2007;29:381-390] Dissatisfaction with current job position was reported in 28.0 percent of respondents.

Almost a third (32 percent) of respondents perceived their health status to be worse than others of the same age. Respondents on average slept for only 6.2 hours per night, and 70.3 percent of respondents indicated inadequate sleep on a weekly basis or more. The prevalence of alcohol drinking, drug addiction and smoking was low.

Working longer hours per week was associated with a 1.02-fold increase in risk of depression (odds ratio [OR], 1.02; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.01 to 1.04; p=0.001), a 1.04-fold increased risk of personal burnout (95 percent CI, 1.02 to 1.05; p<0.001), and a 1.03-fold increased risk of work-related burnout (95 percent CI, 1.02 to 1.05; p<0.001).

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