More than one in four doctors-in-training may be depressed, which could put their patients at risk, a new study suggests.
Researchers reviewed 54 studies involving 17,500 medical residents conducted worldwide over 50 years. They found that nearly 29 percent of the residents showed signs of depression, and that the rate of depression among medical residents is on the rise.
The grind of medical training may help explain the finding, the researchers said.
However, “the increase in depression is surprising and important, especially in light of reforms that have been implemented over the years with the intent of improving the mental health of residents and the health of patients,” study senior author Dr. Srijan Sen, a University of Michigan Medical School psychiatrist, said in a university news release.
These findings show that medical schools and hospitals must do more to safeguard new doctors’ mental health, Sen’s team added.
The results were published Dec. 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It’s known that doctors with depression are more likely to make mistakes or provide worse care to patients, the researchers added.
“Our findings provide a more accurate measure of the prevalence of depression in this group,” study lead author Dr. Douglas Mata, of Harvard University in Boston, said in the news release. “We hope that they will focus attention on factors that may negatively affect the mental health of young doctors, with the goal of identifying strategies to prevent and treat depression among graduate medical trainees.”
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.