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Junior house officers one year on: changes in psychological distress and error-making

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The present study followed junior house officers from a study conducted by Houston and Allt (1997). Doctors were contacted at the end of the junior year and again eight weeks into the senior house officer year. Changes in psychological health and propensity to make errors were examined. It was predicted that there would be a significant decrease in psychological disturbance and error-making compared to that found at the beginning of the junior house officer year. Questionnaires were administered twice-at the end of the junior year (Time 3) and eight weeks into the beginning of a senior house officer post (Time 4). All participants completed the General Health Questionnaire, the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire and the Medical Errors Questionnaire at Times 3 and 4. The levels of anxiety, insomnia and somatic symptoms found by Houston and Allt (1997) persisted into the senior house officer year. However, there were significant decreases in errors made in medical work and in everyday life. It is concluded that newly qualified doctors continue to experience considerable amounts of emotional distress in their senior house officer post. There is some evidence that they may be finding ways to manage this level of stress, reflected by the decline in everyday and medical error-making.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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