Doctor Mental Health Determined by Off Time and Sleep

A new study of doctors in Japan indicates that physician mental health can be predicted by looking at the amount of sleep and time off they’re able to have. A survey asked doctors about the number of days they spent off duty, the amount of overnight work they performed, and their average number of hours they slept on days when they didn’t work the previous overnight period…

For both men and women, depressive state was associated with having no off-duty days and averaging less than 5 hours of sleep on days not doing overnight work. Depressive state was positively associated with being on-call more than 5 days per month for men, and more than 8 days per month for women, and was negatively associated with being off-duty more than 8 days per month for men.

While the results of this survey might have been predicted in advance, it’s a telling overview of the mental health of medical professionals.  It also makes a case for regulating the amount of time that doctors are allotted for sleep, much like the rules in place for pilots and truckers.  If you knew your doctor was depressed due to sleep deprivation, would you want him or her performing an operation on you or your loved one?

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