Resilience, burnout and coping mechanisms in UK doctors: a cross-sectional study

Nicola McKinley, R Scott McCain, Liam Convie, Mike Clarke, Martin Dempster, William Jeffrey Campbell, Stephen Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
87 Downloads (Pure)


Aims: This cross-sectional study aimed to assess resilience, professional quality of life and coping mechanisms in UK doctors. It also aimed to assess the impact of demographic variables, such as sex, grade and specialty on these factors. Methods: During October and November 2018, medical doctors in the UK were eligible to complete an online survey made up of validated psychological instruments. Royal Colleges and other medical organisations invited their membership to participate via newsletters, email invitations, websites and social media. Results: 1651 doctors participated from a wide range of specialties and grades across the UK. The mean resilience score was 65.01 (SD 12.3), lower than population norms. Of those who responded, 31.5% had high burnout (BO), 26.2% had high secondary traumatic stress and 30.7% had low compassion satisfaction (CS). Doctors who responded from emergency medicine were more burned out than any other specialty group (F=2.62, p=0.001, df 14). Those who responded from general practice scored lowest for CS (F=6.43, p<0.001, df 14). 120 (8%) doctors met the criteria for all three of high BO, high STS and low CS. The most frequently reported coping mechanism was the maladaptive strategy of self-distraction. Conclusions: One-third of UK doctors who responded are burned out and suffering from STS. Those who responded from emergency medicine and general practice appear to be suffering the most. Over 100 doctors fell into the at-risk category of high BO, high STS and low CS. Future analysis of the free text responses from doctors may help to identify factors that are playing a role in the high levels of BO and STS being reported by medical staff.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere031765
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Resilience, burnout and coping mechanisms in UK doctors: a cross-sectional study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this