Changes in the lifetime prevalence of suicidal feelings and thoughts among Norwegian doctors from 2000 to 2010: a longitudinal study based on national samples

BMC Psychiatry. 2013 Nov 28;13:322. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-13-322.

Abstract

Background: Thinking about suicide is an indicator of suicide risk. Suicide rates are higher among doctors than in the population. The main aims of this study are to describe the changes in the lifetime prevalence of suicidal feelings from 2000 to 2010 and the possible predictors of serious suicidal thoughts in 2010 among Norwegian doctors. Differences in lifetime prevalence of suicidal feelings between Norwegian doctors in 2010 and German doctors in 2006 will be also described.

Methods: Longitudinal and cross-sectional study based on questionnaire data from 2000 and 2010, including approximately 1,600 Norwegian doctors. In Germany, cross-sectional study based on questionnaire data from 2006 among a sample of 3,295 doctors. The main outcome measures were the lifetime prevalence of suicidal feelings (felt life was not worth living, wished own death, had thoughts of taking own life).

Results: The prevalences in 2000 and 2010 of ever had feelings of life not worth living were 48 (44 to 52) % and 45 (41 to 49) %, of ever wished own death 27 (23 to 30) % and 23 (20 to 26) %, and of ever had thoughts of taking own life 29 (16 to 33) % and 24 (21 to 27) %. Paired t-tests among those who responded both in 2000 and 2010 show significant reductions for felt life not worth living (t = -3.4; p = 0.001), wished own death (t = -3.1; p = 0.002) and had thoughts of taking own life (t = -3.5; p < 0.0001). In 2010, significant predictors of serious suicidal thoughts in a multivariate model were low subjective well-being (OR 0.68; 95% CI 0.52-0.90), poor or average self-rated health (2.36; 1.25-4.45) and high psychosocial work stress (1.92; 1.06-3.46), controlled for age, gender, speciality and job satisfaction. Norwegian doctors in 2010 compared with their German counterparts in 2006 reported quite similar prevalences of suicidal feelings.

Conclusions: Suicidal feelings among Norwegian doctors decreased from 2000 to 2010. Individual and work-related factors may to certain explain these findings. Compared with other professionals in Norway and doctors in Germany, Norwegian doctors showed no higher risk of suicidal thoughts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires