Stress among medical doctors working in public hospitals of the Ngaka Modiri Molema district (Mafikeng health region), North West province, South Africa

I Govender, E Mutunzi, H I Okonta


Introduction. Stress and burnout are common among healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses. Work-related stress rates among the general working population average 18%, while among doctors the rate is reported to be around 28%. Stress in doctors can result in multiple negative consequences. Detecting stress early may have positive outcomes for doctors, their families and the patients they care for. There is growing concern about stress in doctors working in public hospitals, yet there is a paucity of studies on stress among these doctors in South Africa.

Methods. A cross-sectional, descriptive study using a self-administered, standardised questionnaire (12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12)) was conducted among medical doctors working in four hospitals of the Ngaka Modiri Molema (NMM) district, North West province. The research questionnaire was distributed and returned anonymously to ensure confidentiality.

Results. Of the 67 doctors in the study, 34 (51%) were found to be stressed; 18 (27%) of the participants were highly stressed (morbidly stressed). This result was compared with figures obtained by Govender in an earlier study conducted among private general practitioners in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, in which 38% were stressed according to the GHQ-12; 23% of the subjects were morbidly stressed.

Conclusion. The rate of stress among doctors working in the four hospitals of the NMM district is higher than that found in other studies, which report a stress prevalence of 28 - 38% among doctors.


Stress, General Practitioners

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Submitted: 03 December 2011
Published: 01 May 2012

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)