The Psychological Health of Emergency Medicine Consultants
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
to publish papers
Objective—To explore the experience of psychological distress and wellbeing in emergency medicine (EM) consultants. Methods— A qualitative, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) study based on interviews with EM consultants working in emergency departments (EDs) across South West England. 18 EM consultants were interviewed, representing a response rate of 54.55% across 5 EDs. The mean (SD) age of participants was 43.17 (5.8) years. All participants worked full-time as EM consultants, with the average years-in-role being 7.64 (5.76). The personal meanings that participants attached to their experiences were inductively analysed and explored alongside their perceived psychological health. Results— The analysis formed three super-ordinate themes: systemic pressures, physical and mental strain, and managing the challenges. Pressures within the ED and healthcare system contributed to participants feeling undervalued and unsatisfied when working in an increasingly uncontrollable environment. Participants described working intensely to meet systemic demands, which inadvertently contributed to a diminishing sense of achievement and self-worth. Consultants perceived their experience of physical and emotional strain as unsustainable, as it negatively impacted: functioning at work, relationships, personal wellbeing and the EM profession. Sustainability was promoted by the presence of social support and through evolving with the consultant role. Conclusions— EM consultants experience considerable physical and mental strain. This strain is dynamically related to consultants' experiences of diminishing self-worth and satisfaction, alongside current socio-political demands on EM services. Recognising the psychological experience and needs of EM consultants through promoting a sustainable EM consultant role could have wide-reaching benefits for the delivery of emergency care and physician wellbeing.
Doctorate in Clinical Psychology