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. 2020 Jan 29;15(1):e0228152.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228152. eCollection 2020.

The Relationship Between Psychological Health and Social Support: Evidence From Physicians in China

Free PMC article

The Relationship Between Psychological Health and Social Support: Evidence From Physicians in China

Jiangjie Sun et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Background: The psychological health (PH) of doctors affects the quality of medical service and is related to the safety of patients. The serious problems with the doctor-patient relationship in China can lead to long-term imbalances in doctor PH, and the poor PH status of doctors has raised scholars' concern. Current research mainly focuses on how factors such as social support and the impact of the residential environment correlate with individual PH. We continue this direction of research to see how the mechanism of social support impacts physician PH, also investigating the moderating effect of demographic indicators on physician PH.

Methods: Based on a survey of 399 physicians, a descriptive analysis of measured data was done using SPSS 19.0. Pearson correlation coefficient analysis was used to examine the correlations between PH and the social support rating scale (SSRS) and the demographic variables. KMO and Bartlett methods were used to examine the correlations between PH and SDS (a scale to measure depression) and between PH and SAS (a scale to measure anxiety). The method of factor analysis was used for multicollinearity tests, and multiple stepwise regression analysis was used to explore the demographic factors correlated with PH and SSRS. Two-way interactions in moderated multiple regression were used to test the moderating effect of education level and title on SSRS, SDS, and SAS.

Results: Our results indicate that the level of PH is influenced by the age, education, and title of a doctor. A physician's title is significantly and positively correlated with PH, but age and education are significantly negatively related. Age, education, and title also affect the level of SSRS in physicians. SSRS is positively correlated with age, education, and title, and SSRS positively influences PH. Education and title had significant effects on the moderating influences of SSRS, SDS, SAS, and PH.

Conclusion: The factors directly affecting PH include SSRS, age, and title, while education was found to be an indirect influencing factor. To meet goals expressed in Chinese government policy related to these issues, we suggest strengthening the guidance of the media, introducing laws and regulations on doctor-patient risk management and control, reforming the review mechanism of hospital job titles, improving the education level of doctors, building a comprehensive evaluation system of "practice performance + doctor-patient satisfaction", and strengthening doctor-patient empathy. Through such measures, the level of PH in physicians will improve.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Conceptual model.
Note: Each path is dentified by the hypothesis with which it is associated. SSRS: Social support rating scale, SDS:Self-Rating Depression Scale, SAS: Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, PH is redentified by SDS and SAS.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Location of Physicians studied in this PH research.
The map of China in the picture is extracted from CIA website. Hint: the relative location of Anhui province, China and the world.
Fig 3
Fig 3. Education moderation interaction diagram for SSRS and physician SDS.
Fig 4
Fig 4. Education moderation interaction diagram for SSRS and physician SAS.
Fig 5
Fig 5. Title moderation interaction diagram for SSRS and physician SDS.
Fig 6
Fig 6. Title moderation interaction diagram for SSRS and physician SAS.

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This work was supported in part by the Natural Science Foundation of Anhui Province of China under Grant No.1908085MG233 to JS, Quality Engineering for research projects of the Anhui Department of Education about Wisdom classroom 2018zhkt180 to JS, the Natural Science Foundation for the Higher Education Institutions of Anhui Province of China under Grant No. KJ2019A0945 to LZ, Humanities and Social Science Research Projects of Key Base in Sichuan Provincial of China under Grant No.SCYG2018-10, and Science and Technology Innovative Research Team in Higher Educational Institutions of Hunan Province Grant Numbers KJ2016A372 and KJ2016SD30 to LZ and CH. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.