School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Research

Work and Health Research Centre

Occupational Health & Well-Being of Junior Doctors

Research Team

Professor Cheryl Haslam
Myanna Duncan, Ph.D Student

In recent years there have been number of changes to the nature and structure of the Junior Doctor training scheme. In August 2005 the Modernising Medical Careers initiative introduced a new two year Foundation Programme for Junior Doctors' training which effectively replaced the existing House Officer years. In conjunction with curriculum reform, the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) came into effect for Junior Doctors in August 2004 limiting their working week to 58 hours. Legislation aims to further reduce this to 56 hours by August 2007, and again to 48 hours by August 2009. The Directive additionally establishes minimum requirements for rest periods and annual leave. Whilst the intention of the EWTD is to protect the health, safety and welfare of workers, its introduction has simultaneously presented several challenges to healthcare professionals. One such challenge includes the transformation of the traditional shift system Junior Doctors operated on. Critics have argued that these recent adjustments to Junior Doctor training signify a change in medical practice, as future doctors train differently, work differently, and live differently. However, little empirical work has been conducted to examine the effects these new working practices have had on the health and well-being of those to whom the policies have been applied.

  • Examine Junior Doctors' sleeping habits, well-being and lifestyle behaviours
  • Explore Junior Doctors' views on the sources of their occupational stress and means through which they deal with stressors
  • Assess Junior Doctors' views on the European Working Time Directive and the New Deal, with specific reference to their perceived impact on their cohort
  • Present findings to key stakeholders and organisational representatives in view to help tailor future policy; assist with the provision of advice and guidance; and to contribute toward future research needs
  1. Semi-Structured One-To-One Interviews with 20-25 Junior Doctors.
  2. Large Scale Questionnaire administered to 400 Junior Doctors in the Midlands areas, specifically Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. Provisional measures include the Occupational Stress Indicator Questionnaire; Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; GHQ 28, and questions relating to lifestyle behaviours.
  3. Longitudinal Sleep Study involving 10-15 individuals combining objective and subjective assessments of sleep. Phase one will be completed pre August 2007, and Phase two post August 2007, once the ETWD comes into effect for a 56 hour working week.
  4. Focus Groups to be conducted with key stakeholders from General Medical Council, Postgraduate Deans & Junior Doctors Committee; Organisational Representatives from NHS Occupational Health Departments & Human Resource Managers

This principal aim of this research is to develop a picture of the overall well-being of Junior Doctors presently involved in the Foundation Programme. Acknowledging the breadth of this nationwide programme, the present research will limit itself to the examination of Junior Doctors working within the Midlands, for obvious pragmatic reasons. Having obtained this information, the final objective of the research thesis is to present the findings to key stakeholders involved at policy level. If the research consistently identifies specific issues of concern to the Junior Doctors these matters will be discussed with the organisational representatives. This, in turn, may facilitate the development of future policy.