Health problems and the use of health services among physicians: a review article with particular emphasis on Norwegian studies

Ind Health. 2007 Oct;45(5):599-610. doi: 10.2486/indhealth.45.599.


This paper provides an overview of recent Norwegian and international research into physicians' health problems and their use of health services, with a particular focus on more recent studies relating to The Norwegian Physicians' Survey. The review suggests that physicians' physical health is similar to the general population, although female physicians tend to be in better health than other women. Some mental disorders such as depression and suicide appear to be more prevalent. Mental health problems are known to be associated with low work control (autonomy), time pressure and demanding patients. There is little difference between the genders early in their career, but more female than male physicians seem to experience problems later on. Physicians seldom take sick leave, and tend to make less use of primary health care and some screening facilities. Self-treatment is common -- even for mental problems. American impaired physician programmes have demonstrated high recovery rates (70-80%), and increasing emphasis is now being placed on psychiatric diagnoses. As certain mental disorders appear to be common among physicians, specialist psychiatric services should be made more accessible for this group. A low-threshold facility for seeking help with such problems has recently been developed in Norway (the Villa Sana Resource Centre).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Health
  • Norway
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Physicians*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders