Prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms and related risk factors among physicians in China: a cross-sectional study

PLoS One. 2014 Jul 22;9(7):e103242. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103242. eCollection 2014.


Background: Physicians' poor mental health not only hinders their professional performance and affects the quality of healthcare provided but also adversely affects patients' health outcomes. Few studies in China have evaluated the mental health of physicians. The purposes of this study are to quantify Chinese physicians' anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as evaluate associated risk factors.

Methods: In our study, 2641 physicians working in public hospitals in Shenzhen in southern China were recruited and interviewed by using a structured questionnaire along with validated scales testing anxiety and depressive symptoms. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to identify risk factors for anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Results: An estimated 25.67% of physicians had anxiety symptoms, 28.13% had depressive symptoms, and 19.01% had both anxiety and depressive symptoms. More than 10% of the participants often experienced workplace violence and 63.17% sometimes encountered it. Among our study population, anxiety and depressive symptoms were associated with poor self-reported physical health, frequent workplace violence, lengthy working hours (more than 60 hours a week), frequent night shifts (twice or more per week), and lack of regular physical exercise.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates that anxiety and depressive symptoms are common among physicians in China, and the doctor-patient relationship issue is particularly stressful. Interventions implemented to minimize workload, improve doctor-patient relationships, and assist physicians in developing healthier lifestyles are essential to combat anxiety and depressive symptoms among physicians, which may improve their professional performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / complications
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grant support

This project was funded by the Shenzhen Health Education and Promotion Center. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.