Peer reviewed research news

Infectious disease doctors suffer bullying and burnout

Photo Credit: Dennis Skley

Young medics working in the fields of infectious diseases and medical microbiology say they suffer burnout, bullying and see parenthood as a potential career problem according to a recent study published in European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious diseases.

The anonymous online survey collected responses from 416 young doctors working across Europe in 2015 and was conducted by the Trainee Association of the European Society of Clinically Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID).

The researchers reported that just over half of the respondents, 63 per cent, said they felt worn-out and around one in five had experienced bullying at work. Nearly half of the doctors felt unappreciated and 68 per cent reported feelings of frustration.

The study authors found that those working in southern or eastern Europe  were less likely to be granted parental leave during training and that overall women were less satisfied with the quantity of leave they were allowed to take.

“This survey suggests less than ideal working conditions and worrying levels of dissatisfaction among young clinicians working in clinical microbiology and infectious diseases,” said Dr David Ong, one of the authors of the study and president of the Trainee Association of ESCMID.

He explained: “It’s notable that, while the situation in some parts of Europe is worse than others, even high-income countries seem unable to create good working conditions for staff in this area.

“Parenthood is perceived by a number of study participants as having a negative impact on the professional career of young physicians, and this seems especially pronounced for women.”

The researchers speculate that this is probably the result of an increased proportion of female medical graduates and local cultural attitudes that parenthood is still mainly the mother’s responsibility.

Professor Maurizio Sanguinetti, co-author and Professional Affairs Officer of ESCMID said: “It’s important to acknowledge that the issues raised in this research are also affecting young doctors working in all specialities. However, ESCMID is one of only a few international medical societies investigating these factors and seeking solutions.”

He added: “Issues of equality and professional development are major concerns to ESCMID and its members, and we will use the findings of this research to guide our discussions at national and European levels.”

Want to learn more?

The original paper can be found here

Some general background information about the ESCMID  Trainee scheme can be found here.

Other interesting research papers about occupational burnout in infectious disease healthcare workers:


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