In light of prior reports on the prevalence of stress, depression, and other mental health problems among physicians in training and practice, we examined the mental health concerns of Canadian physicians using data from the 2007-2008 Canadian Physician Health Study.
Among 3213 respondents, 5 variables (depressive symptoms during the past year, anhedonia in the past year, mental health concerns making it difficult to handle one's workload in the past month, problems with work-life balance, and poor awareness of resources for mental health problems) were examined in relation to sex, specialty, practice type (solo practice vs group or other practice settings), and practice setting (inner city, urban/suburban, or rural/small town/remote).
Nearly one quarter of physicians reported a 2-week period of depressed mood, and depression was more common among female physicians and general practitioners/family physicians. Anhedonia was reported by one fifth; anesthesiologists were most likely to report anhedonia, followed by general practitioners/family physicians. More than one quarter reported mental health concerns making it difficult to handle their workload, which was more common among female physicians and general practitioners/family physicians and psychiatrists. Nearly one quarter reported poor work-life balance. Lack of familiarity with mental health resources was problematic, which was more prominent among female physicians and specialists outside of general practice/family medicine or psychiatry.
Mental health concerns are relatively common among Canadian physicians. Training programs and programmatic/policy enhancements should redouble efforts to address depression and other mental health concerns among physicians for the benefit of the workforce and patients served by Canadian physicians.