BACKGROUND: Poor mental health and high stress levels have been reported in staff working in general practice. Little is known about how practices are tackling these and other issues of health at work in the absence of an established occupational healthcare service. AIM: To establish the extent of knowledge and good practice of health at work policies for staff working in general practice. METHOD: Practice managers in 450 randomly selected general practices in England were interviewed by telephone, and the general practitioner (GP) with lead responsibility for workplace health in the same practice was surveyed by postal questionnaire. We surveyed the existence and implementation of practice policies, causes and effects of stress on practice staff, and agreement between practice managers and GPs on these issues. RESULTS: Seventy-one per cent of GPs and 76% of practice managers responded, with at least one reply from 408 (91%) practices and responses from both the practice manager and GPs from 252 (56%) practices. Seventy-nine per cent of practices had a policy on monitoring risks and hazards. The proportion of practices with other workplace health policies ranged from 21% (policy to minimize stress) to 91% (policy on staff smoking). There was a tendency for practices to have policies but not to implement them. The three causes of stress for practice staff most commonly cites by both GP and practice manager responders were 'patient demands', 'too much work', and 'patient abuse/aggression'. Sixty-five per cent of GPs felt that stress had caused mistakes in their practices. Although there was general agreement between the two groups, there was a considerable lack of agreement between responders working in the same practices. CONCLUSIONS: The study revealed substantial neglect of workplace health issues with many practices falling foul of health and safety legislation. This report should help general practices identify issues to tackle to improve their workplace health, and the Health at Work in the NHS project to focus on areas where their targeted help will be most worthwhile. (+info)
The effect of race and sex on physicians' recommendations for cardiac catheterization.
BACKGROUND: Epidemiologic studies have reported differences in the use of cardiovascular procedures according to the race and sex of the patient. Whether the differences stem from differences in the recommendations of physicians remains uncertain. METHODS: We developed a computerized survey instrument to assess physicians' recommendations for managing chest pain. Actors portrayed patients with particular characteristics in scripted interviews about their symptoms. A total of 720 physicians at two national meetings of organizations of primary care physicians participated in the survey. Each physician viewed a recorded interview and was given other data about a hypothetical patient. He or she then made recommendations about that patient's care. We used multivariate logistic-regression analysis to assess the effects of the race and sex of the patients on treatment recommendations, while controlling for the physicians' assessment of the probability of coronary artery disease as well as for the age of the patient, the level of coronary risk, the type of chest pain, and the results of an exercise stress test. RESULTS: The physicians' mean (+/-SD) estimates of the probability of coronary artery disease were lower for women (probability, 64.1+/-19.3 percent, vs. 69.2+/-18.2 percent for men; P<0.001), younger patients (63.8+/-19.5 percent for patients who were 55 years old, vs. 69.5+/-17.9 percent for patients who were 70 years old; P<0.001), and patients with nonanginal pain (58.3+/-19.0 percent, vs. 64.4+/-18.3 percent for patients with possible angina and 77.1+/-14.0 percent for those with definite angina; P=0.001). Logistic-regression analysis indicated that women (odds ratio, 0.60; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.4 to 0.9; P=0.02) and blacks (odds ratio, 0.60; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.4 to 0.9; P=0.02) were less likely to be referred for cardiac catheterization than men and whites, respectively. Analysis of race-sex interactions showed that black women were significantly less likely to be referred for catheterization than white men (odds ratio, 0.4; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.2 to 0.7; P=0.004). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that the race and sex of a patient independently influence how physicians manage chest pain. (+info)
Descriptive study of cooperative language in primary care consultations by male and female doctors.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the use of some of the characteristics of male and female language by male and female primary care practitioners during consultations. DESIGN: Doctors' use of the language of dominance and support was explored by using concordancing software. Three areas were examined: mean number of words per consultation; relative frequency of question tags; and use of mitigated directives. The analysis of language associated with cooperative talk examines relevant words or phrases and their immediate context. SUBJECTS: 26 male and 14 female doctors in general practice, in a total of 373 consecutive consultations. SETTING: West Midlands. RESULTS: Doctors spoke significantly more words than patients, but the number of words spoken by male and female doctors did not differ significantly. Question tags were used far more frequently by doctors (P<0.001) than by patients or companions. Frequency of use was similar in male and female doctors, and the speech styles in consultation were similar. CONCLUSIONS: These data show that male and female doctors use a speech style which is not gender specific, contrary to findings elsewhere; doctors consulted in an overtly non-directive, negotiated style, which is realised through suggestions and affective comments. This mode of communication is the core teaching of communication skills courses. These results suggest that men have more to learn to achieve competence as professional communicators. (+info)
Individual and organizational predictors of depression in general practitioners.
BACKGROUND: High levels of stress and depression are seen in both general practitioners (GPs) and hospital doctors, and this has implications for patient care. It is therefore important to discover the individual and organizational causes of elevated symptoms so they can be tackled. AIM: To discover the relative importance of individual characteristics measured 10 years earlier compared with current organizational stressors in predicting depression in GPs. METHOD: Longitudinal questionnaire study, using data from those of the original cohort of 318 medical students who are now GPs (n = 131), considering perceptions of current stressors and comparing through regression analyses the relative strength of early personality and mood with current organizational factors of sleep, hours worked, and practice size in predicting current depression levels. RESULTS: There were 22 (17%) stressors scoring above threshold for depression. Relationships with senior doctors and patients are the main reported stressors, followed by making mistakes and conflict of career with personal life. The predictors of symptom levels varied for men and women. In men, depression and self-criticism as students, and current sleep levels; and in women, sibling rivalry and current alcohol use, were the main predictors: in men, 27% of the variance was accounted for by early dispositional factors alone compared with 14% in women. A model is suggested linking sleep loss with workplace stressors, self-critical cognitions, and depression. CONCLUSION: Interventions can be made throughout training, targeting self-criticism and recognizing early depression, while later addressing the organizational stressors, particularly work relationships and sleep patterns. (+info)
Stress and morale in general practice: a comparison of two health care systems.
BACKGROUND: Poor morale and high levels of stress among general practitioners (GPs) are causing concern. Little research has previously been carried out to study possible differences in morale and stress between GPs working in two different but geographically similar health care systems. AIM: To compare perceived levels of stress and morale between GPs working in two different health care systems--one having a state monopoly (Northern Ireland) and the other having mixed private and state funding (Republic of Ireland)--and to look for factors that might help explain any differences in stress levels and morale between the two systems. METHOD: Anonymous and confidential questionnaires were sent to all 986 National Health Service (NHS) GPs in Northern Ireland (NI) and a random sample of 900 GPs in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). A common set of core questions on demographic details, partners and work patterns, perceived levels of stress and morale, safety, violence, and complaints were asked. RESULTS: Response rates were high in both areas: 91% in NI and 78% in the ROI. GPs in NI had significantly higher stress levels and significantly lower levels of morale than GPs in the ROI. The NI sample expect matters to get worse over the following year. Doctors in the ROI were more likely to be single handed and to work from two sites. Also, more GPs in ROI had fears for their safety and had been the subject of physical violence, but fewer had received complaints and medico-legal actions than in NI. CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of both groups of doctors report feeling highly stressed but GPs in NI appear more unhappy and have a poorer outlook for the future. It is suggested that the structure, management, and expectations of the NHS have taken a severe toll on its GPs, whereas a system in which doctors have less practice support but more control is good for morale. (+info)
Women patients' preferences for female or male GPs.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate general preferences to see a male or female GP either some or all of the time, and specific preferences to see a female primary health care (PHC) worker for individual health issues; to compare these preferences with reported consultation behaviour; and to explore women's evaluations of the quality of PHC services in relation to their preferences and consultation behaviour. METHOD: Results are reported on 881 women aged 16-65 years who had consulted their GP in the previous 6 months. Logistical regression analysis was undertaken to evaluate whether a general preference to see another woman is more important than specific women's health issues in determining why some women regularly choose to consult a female GP. RESULTS: General preference was 2.6 times more important than specific health issues in predicting choice of a female GP in a mixed-sex practice. Nearly a half (49.1 %) of women attending male-only practices stated that they wanted to see a female GP in at least some circumstances, compared with 63.8% of women in mixed-sex practices. In total, 65.5% of the sample stated that there was at least one specific health issue for which they would only want to be seen by a woman PHC worker. The most positive evaluations of the quality of GP services were made by women normally seeing a male GP in mixed-sex practices and the least positive evaluations were given by women in male-only GP practices CONCLUSIONS: In order to meet women's expressed preferences, every GP practice should have at least one female GP available at least some of the time and every GP practice should employ a female PHC worker. (+info)
When to consider radiation therapy for your patient.
Radiation therapy can be an effective treatment modality for both malignant and benign disease. While radiation can be given as primary treatment, it may also be used pre- or postoperatively, with or without other forms of therapy. Radiation therapy is often curative but is sometimes palliative. There are many methods of delivering radiation effectively. Often, patients tolerate irradiation well without significant complications, and organ function is preserved. To ensure that all patients with cancer have the opportunity to consider all treatment options, family physicians should be aware of the usefulness of radiation therapy. (+info)
Methadone treatment by general practitioners in Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam, a three-tiered program exists to deal with drug use and addiction. General practitioners form the backbone of the system, helping to deal with the majority of addicts, who are not criminals and many of whom desire to be free of addiction. Distinctions are made between drugs with "acceptable" and "unacceptable" risks, and between drug use and drug-related crime; patients who fall into the former categories are treated in a nonconfrontational, nonstigmatizing manner; such a system helps prevent the majority of patients from passing into unacceptable, criminalized categories. The overall program has demonstrated harm reduction both for patients and for the city of Amsterdam. (+info)