Objectives: To investigate the major stressors affecting GP registrars, how those at risk can be best identified and the most useful methods of managing or reducing their stress.
Design, setting and participants: Cross-sectional postal questionnaire of all GP registrars in one large regional training provider's catchment area.
Main outcome measures: The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS), a specifically developed Registrar Stressor Scale consisting of five subscales of potential stressors, plus closed questions on how to identify and manage stress in GP registrars.
Results: Survey response rate of 51% (102/199). Rural difficulties followed by achieving a work/life balance were the principal stressors. Ten percent of registrars were mildly or moderately depressed or anxious (DASS) and 7% mild to moderately anxious (DASS). Registrars preferred informal means of identifying those under stress (a buddy system and talks with their supervisors); similarly, they preferred to manage stress by discussions with family and friends, debriefing with peers and colleagues, or undertaking sport and leisure activities.
Conclusions: This study supports research which confirms that poor psychological well-being is an important issue for a significant minority of GP trainees. Regional training providers should ensure that they facilitate formal and informal strategies to identify those at risk and assist them to cope with their stress.