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Welfare of anaesthesia trainees survey

Department of Anaesthesia, Westmead Hospital, Sydney NSW

Summary

This study was designed to investigate levels of stress, anxiety or depression and to identify factors compounding or relieving stress in anaesthesia trainees within the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) training scheme. An electronic survey was sent to 999 randomly selected trainees and 428 responses were received. In addition to demographics, psychological wellbeing was assessed using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) and questions were asked about depression and anxiety, exacerbating factors, personal healthcare and strategies used to manage stress. The majority of respondents (73%) reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their job and training. However, 28% of respondents had K10 scores indicating high or very high distress levels. Eleven percent reported being currently on treatment for anxiety and/or depression. Twenty-two percent reported having experienced bullying and 14% sexism. Twenty-eight percent reported that they did not have a regular general practitioner (GP), and 41% reported having not visited their GP in the previous year. Forty-seven percent of trainees reported that they self-prescribe medications. Major stressors reported were exams, critical clinical events and fear of making errors. Two stressors previously not identified in similar studies were concern about job prospects in 71% of respondents and workplace-based assessments in 51%. This survey demonstrates significant psychological impairment and poor personal healthcare amongst many trainees. Education, careful continuing assessment of trainees’ welfare and a review of current support and remedial measures may be required.

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