The role of psychological well-being in retaining rural general practitioners

Aust J Rural Health. 2005 Jun;13(3):149-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1854.2005.00677.x.


Objective: Retention of rural GPs is an increasing area of concern and is receiving considerable attention from the government, medical authorities and the media. This study aimed to examine the potential for psychological interventions to assist in the retention of rural GPs through targeting their psychological well-being.

Design: GPs completed a questionnaire, including questions about their level of support in rural practice, psychological health (work-related morale and distress, distress related specifically to working in rural general practice, quality of work life) and intentions to leave rural practice.

Setting: Rural general practices in South Australia.

Participants: One hundred and eighty-seven rural GPs.

Results: Results indicated that rural GPs who were seriously considering leaving rural practice had higher work-related distress, higher distress related specifically to working in a rural general practice and lower quality of work life. GPs who considered leaving rural practice also reported having fewer colleagues with whom to discuss professional issues.

Conclusion: Results indicated that psychological interventions (such as cognitive behavioural training), assistance with stress reduction and coping mechanisms (such as more interaction with colleagues) may be of benefit to GPs who are considering leaving rural practice. Such training may increase the number of GPs who ultimately stay in rural practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Crisis Intervention / statistics & numerical data
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Morale
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Personnel Loyalty*
  • Personnel Turnover / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Social Support
  • South Australia / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Workforce