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A comparison of risk and protective factors related to suicide ideation among residents and specialists in academic medicine

Mari Eneroth1, Marie Gustafsson Sendén1, Lise T Løvseth3, Karin Schenck-Gustafsson2 and Ann Fridner12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

2 Centre of Gender Medicine, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Department of Research and Development, St. Olavs University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:271  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-271

Published: 22 March 2014



Physicians have an elevated risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts, which might be due to work-related factors. However, the hierarchical work positions as well as work-related health differ among resident and specialist physicians. As such, the correlates of suicide ideation may also vary between these two groups.


In the present study, work- and health-related factors and their association with suicidal thoughts among residents (n = 234) and specialists (n = 813) working at a university hospital were examined using cross-sectional data.


Logistic regression analysis showed that having supportive meetings was associated with a lower level of suicide ideation among specialists (OR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.50-0.94), while an empowering leadership was related to a lower level of suicide ideation among residents (OR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.32-0.94). Having been harassed at work was associated with suicidal ideation among specialists (OR = 2.26, 95% CI: 1.31-3.91). In addition, sickness presenteeism and work disengagement were associated with suicide ideation in both groups of physicians.


These findings suggest that different workplace interventions are needed to prevent suicide ideation in residents and specialists.

Suicide ideation; Academic medicine; Residents; Specialists; Work environment