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Factors impacting health and well-being and the utilisation of supports among Australian doctors in medical specialty training
  1. Sotoodeh Abhary1,
  2. Mari Botti2,
  3. Anjali Dhulia3,
  4. Christopher Tham4,
  5. Erwin Loh5,6,
  6. John Catford7
  1. 1 Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators, Hawthorn East, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 School of Nursing and Midwif., Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong, Melbourne, Australia
  3. 3 Executive Office, Monash Health, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4 School of Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5 Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6 Group Chief Medical Officer, St Vincent's Health Australia, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  7. 7 Medical Services, Epworth HealthCare, Richmond, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sotoodeh Abhary, Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators, Hawthorn East VIC 3144, Australia; drsueabhary{at}


Purpose To explore factors impacting the health and well-being of doctors undertaking various specialty training programs, and attitudes towards and utilisation of supports during their training. This is a subset of data from a larger study exploring experiences of doctors in Australian specialty training—a qualitative study of enablers, stressors and supports.

Methods In this qualitative study, registrars in specialist training programmes in Australia were invited and interviewed between August 2015 and August 2016. Semistructured open-ended questions were used to explore topics of relevance to their workplace, training, support service utilisation and personal lives. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, deidentified and content and thematic analysis undertaken. Recruitment was ceased when data saturation was reached and no new themes emerged. Emerging key themes are reported in this study

Results 17 participants were recruited (including 1 Indigenous and 1 international medical graduate). A total of six specialty training programmes, across multiple states at various locations across Australia, were represented.

Common themes impacting health and well-being regarding workplace and training stressors were identified, including poor supervision, shiftwork and on-call, inability to take sick leave, bullying and harassment, college-related factors, examination preparation and work–life imbalance. Several of these were identified as having actual and perceived negative impacts on patient outcomes and safety.

The majority of participants underused existing supports and were unaware of the breadth of support services available to them. Barriers to accessing these services included concerns about their confidentiality and career repercussions.

Conclusions This first Australian pilot study highlighted many stressors and enablers in the workplace, training and personal lives of registrars. The underutilisation and barriers to access of support services were discovered. Several multisystem strategies are required and discussed in this report to address these complex issues identified as affecting the health and well-being of junior doctors.

  • mental health
  • trainees
  • medical leadership
  • behaviour
  • support

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors SA, MB and JC have contributed to the study design, ethics submission to Epworth and Monash Health institutions, and writing and reviewing this manuscript. SA conducted all interviews and along with MB equally undertook thematic analysis of the results. AD and EL have contributed to ethics submission at Monash Health and writing and reviewing this manuscript. CT assisted with the literature review and revision of manuscript.

  • Funding This study was supported by a ’grant in aid’ from the Avant Doctor In Training Research Scholarship Program.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.