Internal medicine residents are increasingly being asked to think about their mental health in the context of a larger clinical and surgical context.
And the new data suggest that they need to be.
Read more The survey, conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asked more than 2,000 internal medicine residents to report on their mental and physical health in general, as well as on the severity of their depression and suicidal thoughts.
A strong correlation between the mental health of residents and the quality of their medical care was also found.
The researchers found that more than half (53%) of internal medicine residency residents reported that their depression or suicidal thoughts were severe, while just 20% reported they were moderate or mild.
The average duration of a resident’s depressive and suicidal symptoms was four weeks, with more than a quarter of those reporting symptoms for two weeks or more.
Depression and suicidal behaviour is a well-known risk factor for suicide, but this is the first time that depression has been linked to mental health problems in internal medicine.
“Our survey is the strongest and most comprehensive data we have on internal medicine and mental health since our first survey in 2009,” said Dr Jennifer Dauphin, lead author of the study.
“We’ve learned that mental health issues can have a significant impact on quality of care and how you care for patients.
The findings underscore the importance of mental health services and support to the health of all residents.”
While many of the questions asked included information on depression, there were also some that were more general, such as “is your health care professional doing their job?” and “do you feel like you need to talk to someone?”
The survey found that internal medicine patients tended to be more concerned with their health than the general public.
The survey found a significant correlation between how worried residents were about their health and how well they were performing on a number of tests, such an anxiety questionnaire, and a self-reported depression assessment.
The survey also revealed that residents who had received a diagnosis of mental illness in the past year were much more likely to have a mental health issue, compared to those who did not.
Depressed residents were also more likely than non-depressed residents to be diagnosed with other mental illnesses.
The study also found that residents with depression were also less likely to report that they were being cared for in a manner that was “appropriate” for their illness.
This suggests that it is important to seek out and follow up with carers, as they may be at higher risk of being at risk of mental disorders.
“Our results also suggest that a focus on mental health should include a discussion about how to deal effectively with symptoms, as the effects of symptoms can be severe,” said Daupthin.
For more information on mental illness, read more: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn82426-mental-illness-depression-susquehannan-internal-medicine-residency-study-sociology-residents