Study: Remote doctors most likely to consider suicide

A RURAL health conference has bolstered research suggesting doctors in remote areas worked the longest hours, were most likely to face minor psychological issues and the most likely to be considering suicide in their professions.

The Rural Medicine 2013 event in Cairns included a discussion with Professor David Clarke of Monash University, the chief investigator on a Beyond Blue project to examine the mental health of Australian doctors.

The results of the study were released last month after a 14,000 doctors and students were surveyed by Roy Morgan.

It suggested that doctors working in rural or remote medicine or Aboriginal health worked an average of 50.9 hours per week and 3.6% drank at harmful levels - the highest of all medical specialties.

More broadly, almost one-third of doctors outside city areas are facing a minor psychiatric disorder and 14.2% would have thought about suicide in the past year.

Professor Clarke discussed these findings with doctors from remote, rural or Aboriginal health areas.

"One person seemed quite experienced and was talking about the culture shock," Prof Clark said.

"When people go to different cultures to work, after six months they feel very distressed."

The study is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world.