Background: Physicians' mental health can be affected by unreasonable demands and complaints made by patients.
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the association between depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation among physicians working in hospitals in Japan and unreasonable patient demands and complaints.
Methods: We sent an anonymous questionnaire to 10,000 randomly selected physicians working at hospitals who were members of the Japan Medical Association. The anonymous self-report questionnaire sought to determine the number of unreasonable demands and complaints made by patients or their family members reported by physicians in the previous 6 months. Depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation were measured using the Japanese version of the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (QIDS). Logistic regression analysis was used to explore the associations of depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation with reported unreasonable demands and complaints.
Results: Among the 3,864 respondents, men (46.3%) reported experiencing unreasonable patient demands and complaints more frequently than women (40.4%). Depressive symptoms were indicated in 8.3% of men and 10.5% of women, and 5.7% of men and 5.8% women were determined to exhibit suicidal ideation. The number of unreasonable demands and complaints in the previous 6 months was significantly associated with depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation for both men and women (P for trend <0.01).
Conclusions: Physicians should recognize the health risks of unreasonable demands and complaints, and hospitals should provide support for physicians dealing with these stressors.