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Well-being in newly qualified doctors: exploring the value of peer-led reflective sessions
  1. Christen Van Den Berghe,
  2. Yvette Jaffe,
  3. Emily Lachmann,
  4. Zahra Ladan,
  5. Amber Buckland,
  6. Sue Laurent,
  7. Sarah Needleman,
  8. Shanthi Shanmugalingam
  1. Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christen Van Den Berghe, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, NW3 2QG, UK; christen.vandenberghe{at}


Introduction Following the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing pressures within the National Health Service, there has been an increasing concern about the well-being of junior doctors in the UK. Newly qualified doctors are particularly vulnerable due to the significant shift in responsibility they experience.

Objectives To implement peer-led reflective session for foundation year 1 (FY1) (first-year postgraduation) doctors and to create a dedicated space in which doctors could share difficult or challenging experiences.

Methods In 2021 and 2022, peer-led reflective sessions were held for FY1s in a district general hospital in London, England. Feedback assessing well-being, perceived levels of support, as well as session benefits and areas for improvement, was obtained throughout the year. Qualitative feedback underwent thematic analysis to understand key benefits of the sessions.

Results Feedback collected at the launch of the initiative revealed that over 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their mental health and well-being had been negatively impacted by work. The majority felt additional support was needed. All attendees found reflective sessions useful. Key benefits were as follows: the provision of a safe psychological space, sharing experiences and reflecting with peers, building relationships with colleagues and the reassurance that others struggled with similar challenges.

Conclusion FY1 doctors reported that starting work negatively affected their well-being and that additional support was needed. Facilitated peer-led reflective sessions were beneficial and offered a supportive environment for FY1s to share and reflect. We propose the initiative can serve members of the wider healthcare team, including doctors of different grades and nurses.

  • doctor
  • empathy
  • support
  • mental health
  • feedback

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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  • CVDB and YJ are joint first authors.

  • Contributors CVDB, YJ, EL, ZL and AB came up with the idea for this project, implemented and organised the sessions, generated feedback questionnaires and collected feedback. SL, SN and SS supervised the project and provided physical support at sessions as consultants working in the medical education department. YJ led on data collection and CVDB analysed the data, with SS performing the initial qualitative analysis. CVDB and YJ wrote the manuscript with assistance from EL, ZL and AB. SL, SN and SS reviewed the manuscript. CVDB is guarantor for this study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.