Healthcare workers are at increased risk of suicide compared to the general population, and people in specific medical roles are at particular risk.
Researchers at the New York State Psychiatric Institute noted that most previous studies have focused exclusively on physicians, who only make up about five percent of the health care workforce.
However, this study included a variety of healthcare workers, including nurses, health technicians, healthcare support workers, and social workers.
It found that overall, the risk of suicide was 32 percent higher among healthcare workers in the study compared to non-healthcare workers.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Mark Olfson, said: “We need to look at the working conditions (of health care workers) and try to make reforms to provide them with greater support, flexibility in their work routines and timely access to care. mental health”.
The study found that healthcare workers have a higher risk of suicide compared to the general population, with specific roles particularly at risk.
The researchers used the Mortality Disparities in American Communities data set, linking participants ages 26 and older from the 2008 American Community Survey to National Death Index records through the end of 2019.
The study used data from 1.84 million adults, including 176,000 healthcare workers and 1.66 million non-healthcare workers, with an average age of 44 years.
During the years of data analyzed, 200 healthcare workers and 2,500 non-healthcare workers had committed suicide.
While the overall risk was about a third higher, certain healthcare workforce specialties had twice the risk.
For nurses, it was 64 percent higher.
For healthcare technicians, who often collect and prepare blood samples, examine tissue samples or manage laboratories, the risk of suicide was 39 percent higher.
Among social or behavioral workers, who evaluate and treat people with mental, emotional and substance abuse problems, it was 14 percent higher.
Doctors saw an 11 percent increase.
Support workers saw the highest risk of suicide. Researchers found that people in these jobs are 81 percent more likely to commit suicide than non-healthcare workers.
These positions include taking the patient’s vital signs, changing dressings, assisting with walking or carrying patients, and assisting patients with personal hygiene tasks, dressing, and eating.
Support workers are supervised by health professionals in various settings, from mental health to children’s services.
Researchers posit that support workers are at higher risk for suicide because they often hold low-paying, monotonous positions with few opportunities for career advancement.
A previous study also found that these employees are at very high risk for work-related injuries.
Dr. Olfson told MedPage Today, “We need to examine their working conditions and try to make reforms to provide them with greater support, flexibility in their work routines, and timely access to mental health care.”
In addition to variations between occupations, the recent study also found that suicide risk differed between the sexes. While the overall risk of suicide among healthcare workers is higher for men than for women, the increase in risk among the general public among female healthcare workers was greater than the increase among men.
It could be because female doctors tend to spend more time in contact with patients and are mistreated more often, she said. MedPageToday.
They are also more likely to develop insomnia, report lower job satisfaction and are more prone to burnout, he said.
‘That’s a new finding. “We don’t know what’s causing this,” Dr. Olfson said, but added that the sample size was too small to draw a definitive conclusion.
The study was published Tuesday in JAMA Network.