Areas of specialism

Workforce and wellbeing; Occupational stress; Work cultures; Mental health and wellbeing NHS staff; Mental health stigma

Previous roles

Previously, I was a Lecturer, University of Birmingham (2017-2022), where I taught research methods, ethics and sociology applied to health, to medical and public health students. 


Research interests

Wellcome Discovery Award: Revisioning distress and nurse suicidality through a feminist, critical suicidology lens

Principal Investigator of a Wellcome Discovery Award (2023-2028): 'Suffering with suicide': Revisioning distress and nurse suicidality through a feminist, critical suicidology lens'

Project summary

The risk of suicde in female nurses is 23% higher compared to women in other occupational groups. There are over 550,000 registered nurses in England, 64% of whom work in the NHS and social care. Most of the nursing population are women (89%) and ethnically diverse (40% of the NHS workforce; 60% in social care). Current suicide research is gender- and colour-blind. Research paradigms and positions exploring elevated suicide rates in female nurses are limited, obscuring potential solutions by focusing on individual risk factors and pathology and privileging quantitative methodologies and positivism. This novel project will employ qualitative, philosophical positions which provide representation and visibility for diverse voices. It will also illuminate experiences and factors of relevance. This will be the first study worldwide to employ a critical suicidology lens with a feminist methodology to identify contexts contributing to distress and suicidality in nurses. This innovative, important research will address critical knowledge gaps, aiming to elucidate under-researched work contexts and under-represented experiences. It comprises six work packages led by an interdisciplinary, diverse team of nurses, critical suicidologists, sociologists, psychologists, bioethicists, anthropologists and public engagement specialists, in collaboration with storytellers and filmmakers, to generate knowledge and shape future research and policy.


Johanna Spiers, Hilary Causer, Nikos Efstathiou, Carolyn A. Chew-Graham, Anya Gopfert, Kathryn Grayling, Jill Maben, Maria van Hove, Ruth Riley (2024)Negotiating the postvention situation: A grounded theory of NHS staff experiences when supporting their coworkers following a colleague’s suicide, In: Death Studiespp. 1-11 Taylor & Francis

Suicide is a leading cause of death. NHS workers, especially female nurses, have heightened vulnerability. Being impacted by a colleague's suicide can lead to increased suicidality. Postvention refers to support following a suicide. We investigated current, available postvention for NHS workers following a colleague's suicide and the experiences of staff who deliver it ("supporters"). Twenty-two supporters were interviewed, and data were analyzed using classic grounded theory. The theory of negotiating postvention situations was developed. Supporters must negotiate enabling and disabling elements that form a "postvention situation" and impact behaviors and postvention efficacy. Postvention delivery is emotionally burdensome. Supporters need support, which they do not always receive. Postvention can lead to learning, which can better inform future postvention. The extent to which NHS workers can effectively support colleagues will depend on their postvention situation. As such, work must be done to enable supporters to offer effective postvention in the future.Suicide; postvention; healthcare workers; grounded theory

Hilary Causer, Johanna Spiers, Carolyn A Chew-Graham, Nikolaos Efstathiou, Anya Gopfert, Kathryn Grayling, Jill Maben, Maria van Hove, Ruth Riley (2024)Filling in the gaps: A grounded theory of the experiences and needs of healthcare staff following a colleague death by suicide in the UK, In: Death Studiespp. 1-12 Taylor and Francis

Health-workers are more likely to die by suicide than their counterparts in other occupational groups. The suicide of a staff member can be widely felt by colleagues, leading to complex emotional and cognitive responses. Exposure to suicide heightens the risk of dying by suicide. We investigated the impact of a colleague suicide on National Health Service (NHS) staff. Twenty-nine staff were interviewed; all participants were white British, and so not representative of the ethnic make-up of the NHS. Data were analyzed using grounded theory methods. A theory, "filling in the gaps" was developed. Staff experiences gave rise to needs that were not always met. Staff endeavored to "fill in the gaps" in support; however, sometimes fell through those gaps. Organizational and professional contexts shaped their experiences and responses. Recommendations include skilled and targeted support and compassion for affected staff. Cultural change is needed to challenge suicide stigma and unhelpful narratives.

Hilary Causer, Johanna Spiers, Ruth Riley (2024)A Method for Synthesizing Qualitative Data Sources in the Co-Production of Postvention Guidelines for the NHS: A Worked Example, In: International Journal of Qualitative Methods2316094069241229985 Sage

In this paper, we introduce a novel method for the synthesis of qualitative data and co-production in the development of evidence-based guidelines. The call for evidence-based practice in healthcare settings has been dominated by a focus on patient groups, overlooking the need for robust guidelines to inform the delivery of support or developmental interventions for staff members. We propose an eight-step method that brings together primary and secondary qualitative data with co-produced data. Data is synthesised at two of the eight stages. This method generates robust findings and recommendations which are well suited to informing written guidelines. We present our experience of implementing this method in the development of postvention guidelines for the support of National Health Service (NHS) staff following the death by suicide of a colleague. This worked example illustrates the application of the method to the generation of evidence-based, co-produced practice guidelines. We discuss the application of qualitative data and co-production in the development of fit for purpose guidelines, and the lack of transparent reporting of methods in existing guidelines. We recommend that guidelines should be underpinned by empirical evidence and developed in consultation with stakeholders and end-users, including those who will implement and those who will receive treatment or intervention. For transparency and to inform end-users, we conclude that written guidelines should always detail the methods employed in their production.

Ruth Riley, Hilary Causer, Leanne Patrick, Rayna Rogowsky (2023)Why are dominant suicidology approaches failing nurses? A call for a feminist critical suicidology perspective, In: Journal of advanced nursing
Ruth Riley, Johanna Spiers, Viv Gordon (2021)PreScribed (A Life Written for Me): A Theatrical Qualitative Research-Based Performance Script Informed by General Practitioners' Experiences of Emotional Distress, In: International journal of qualitative methods201609406921999188 Sage

This paper includes the script from a research-informed, theater-based production titled PreScribed (A Life Written for Me), which depicts the life of a distressed General Practitioner (GP) who is on the verge of breaking down and burning out. The authors provide context for the collaboration between artist and researchers and report on the creative methodological process involved in the co-production of the script, where research findings were imaginatively transformed into live theater. The researchers provide their reflections on the process and value of artistic collaboration and use of theater to disseminate research findings about emotions to wider audiences. It is concluded that qualitative researchers and artists can collaborate to co-create resonant and powerful pieces of work which communicate the emotions and experiences of research participants in ways that traditional academic dissemination methods cannot. The authors hope that sharing their experiences and this script as well as their reflections on the benefits of this approach may encourage researchers and artists to engage in this type of methodological collaboration in the future.

Damien Ridge, Laurna Bullock, Hilary Causer, Tamsin Fisher, Samantha Hider, Tom Kingstone, Lauren Gray, Ruth Riley, Nina Smyth, Victoria Silverwood, Johanna Spiers, Jane Southam (2023)'Imposter participants' in online qualitative research, a new and increasing threat to data integrity?, In: Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy26(3)pp. 941-944 Wiley
Louise Griffin, Ruth Riley (2022)Exploring the psychological impact of working during COVID-19 on medical and nursing students: a qualitative study, In: BMJ open12(6)055804pp. e055804-e055804 British Medical Journal Publishing Group

ObjectivesTo identify the psychological impact of working during the COVID-19 pandemic on medical and nursing students’ psychological well-being. To inform recommendations for the provision of future student well-being support.DesignAn interpretative qualitative, semistructured interview study employing maximum variation sampling, snowball sampling and a thematic analysis.SettingA large West Midlands (UK) university with medical and nursing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Study undertaken between January and May 2020.ParticipantsA purposive sample of eight medical (six women and two men) and seven nursing (all women) students who worked >2 weeks in a healthcare setting during the COVID-19 pandemic (from 1 March 2020 onwards).ResultsFour core themes with corresponding subthemes were identified: (1) COVID-19 sources of distress—working conditions, exposure to suffering, death and dying, relationships and teams, individual inexperience and student identity, (2) negative impact on mental health and well-being—psychological and emotional distress, delayed distress, exhaustion, mental ill health, (3) protective factors from distress—access to support, environment, preparation and induction, recognition and reward, time for breaks and rest and (4) positive experiences and meaningful outcomes.ConclusionsStudent pandemic deployment has had a significant negative impact on students’ psychological well-being, as a result of demanding working conditions, unprecedented exposure to death and suffering and lack of preparation for new job roles. Universities and healthcare organisations must formally acknowledge this impact and provide well-being support for distressed students working in such challenging contexts. They must also establish more supportive and inclusive healthcare environments for medical and nursing students in future pandemic and postpandemic circumstances, through the implementation of support systems and adequate preparation.

Alice Dunning, Kevin Teoh, James Martin, Johanna Spiers, Marta Buszewicz, Carolyn Chew-Graham, Anna Kathryn Taylor, Anya Gopfert, Maria Van Hove, Louis Appleby, Ruth Riley (2022)Relationship between working conditions and psychological distress experienced by junior doctors in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional survey study, In: BMJ open12(8)e061331pp. e061331-e061331 British Medical Journal Publishing Group

ObjectivesThis paper explored the self-reported prevalence of depression, anxiety and stress among junior doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also reports the association between working conditions and psychological distress experienced by junior doctors.DesignA cross-sectional online survey study was conducted, using the 21-item Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale and Health and Safety Executive scale to measure psychological well-being and working cultures of junior doctors.SettingThe National Health Service in the UK.ParticipantsA sample of 456 UK junior doctors was recruited online during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 to January 2021.ResultsJunior doctors reported poor mental health, with over 40% scoring extremely severely depressed (45.2%), anxious (63.2%) and stressed (40.2%). Both gender and ethnicity were found to have a significant influence on levels of anxiety. Hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis outlined the specific working conditions which significantly predicted depression (increased demands (β=0.101), relationships (β=0.27), unsupportive manager (β=−0.111)), anxiety (relationships (β=0.31), change (β=0.18), demands (β=0.179)) and stress (relationships (β=0.18), demands (β=0.28), role (β=0.11)).ConclusionsThe findings illustrate the importance of working conditions for junior doctors’ mental health, as they were significant predictors for depression, anxiety and stress. Therefore, if the mental health of junior doctors is to be improved, it is important that changes or interventions specifically target the working environment rather than factors within the individual clinician.

Darya Ibrahim, Ruth Riley (2023)Female Medical Students’ Experiences of Sexism during Clinical Placements: A Qualitative Study, In: Healthcare (Basel)11(7)1002 Mdpi

In the UK, more women are studying medicine than men, most of whom have experienced sexism, yet these experiences are under-researched. This qualitative study explores female medical students' experiences of sexism on placement, impacts sustained, barriers and facilitators encountered upon reporting. A total of 17 semi-structured interviews were conducted, employing purposive sampling, snowball sampling and an inductive thematic analysis. A qualitative methodology was underpinned by the feminist social constructionist theory. Four themes were identified: 1-experiences of sexism, comprising physical and verbal harassment and microaggressions; 2-negative impacts of sexist encounters ranged from psychosocial to repercussions on learning and development; 3-systemic and attitudinal barriers to reporting; 4-recommendations to tackle sexism shaped by the views and experiences of female medical student participants. Female medical students experienced wide-ranging sexism which negatively impacted their wellbeing with negative repercussions for their training and development. The barriers to reporting need to be urgently addressed, and systems, policies and processes need to be over-hauled to sensitively, effectively and equitably manage and provide justice to students who experience and report sexism. Students need to be empowered to respond, report and be offered psychological safety in doing so. Attitudes and practices which are complicit in sustaining sexism need to be challenged and changed.

Almost half of NHS doctors are junior doctors, while high proportions are women and/or Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals. Discrimination against this population is associated with poorer career-related outcomes and unequal representation. We aimed to qualitatively explore junior doctors’ experience of workplace racial and gender-based discrimination, and its impact on their psychological distress (PD). In this study, we carried out a secondary analysis of data from a UK-based parent study about junior doctors’ working cultures and conditions. Interview data was examined using thematic analysis. Transcripts (n = 14) documenting experiences of race and/or gender-based discrimination were sampled and analysed from 21 in-depth interviews conducted with UK junior doctors. Four themes were generated about the experiences and perpetrators of discrimination, the psychological impact of discrimination, and organisational interventions that tackle discrimination. Discrimination in various forms was reported, from racially charged threats to subtle microaggressions. Participants experienced profoundly elevated levels of PD, feeling fearful, undermined, and under-confident. Discrimination is associated with elevated levels of PD, whilst negatively impacting workforce sustainability and retention. This reduces the opportunity for more diversity in NHS medical leadership. We encourage NHS hospitals to review their policies about discrimination and develop in-person workshops that focus on recognising, challenging, and reporting workplace discrimination.

Kevin Rui-Han Teoh, Alice Dunning, Anna Kathryn Taylor, Anya Gopfert, Carolyn A. Chew-Graham, Johanna Spiers, Louis Appleby, Maria Van Hove, Marta Buszewicz, Ruth Riley (2023)Working conditions, psychological distress and suicidal ideation: Cross-sectional survey study of UK junior doctors, In: BJPsych open10(1)e14 Cambridge University Press

Background Evidence attests a link between junior doctors’ working conditions and psychological distress. Despite increasing concerns around suicidality among junior doctors, little is known about its relationship to their working conditions. Aims To (a) establish the prevalence of suicidal ideation among junior doctors in the National Health Service; (b) examine the relationships between perceived working conditions and suicidal ideation; and (c) explore whether psychological distress (e.g. symptoms of depression and anxiety) mediates these relationships. Method Junior doctors were recruited between March 2020 and January 2021, for a cross-sectional online survey. We used the Health and Safety Executive's Management Standards Tool; Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale 21; and Paykel Suicidality Scale to assess working conditions, psychological distress and suicidality, respectively. Results Of the 424 participants, 50.2% reported suicidal ideation, including 6.1% who had made an attempt on their own life. Participants who identified as LGBTQ+ (odds ratio 2.18, 95% CI 1.15–4.12) or reported depression symptoms (odds ratio 1.10, 95% CI 1.07–1.14) were more likely to report suicidal ideation. No direct relationships were reported between working conditions (i.e. control, support, role clarity, strained relationships, demand and change) and suicidal ideation. However, depression symptoms mediated all six relationships. Conclusions This sample of junior doctors reported alarming levels of suicidal ideation. There may be an indirect relationship between working conditions and suicidal ideation via depressive symptoms. Clearer research exploring the experience of suicidality in junior doctors is needed, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. Systematic interventions addressing working environment are needed to support junior doctors’ mental health.

Rachel Adams, Rachel Jordan, Peymane Adab, Tim Barrett, Sheriden Bevan, Lucy Cooper, Ingrid DuRand, Pollyanna Hardy, Nicola Heneghan, Kate Jolly, Sue Jowett, Tom Marshall, Margaret O'Hara, Kiran Rai, Hugh Rickards, Ruth Riley, Steven Sadhra, Sarah Tearne, Gareth Walters, Elizabeth Sapey (2022)Enhancing the health of NHS staff: eTHOS - protocol for a randomised controlled pilot trial of an employee health screening clinic for NHS staff to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, compared with usual care, In: Pilot and feasibility studies8(1)155pp. 1-155 Springer Nature

Background: Staff absenteeism and presenteeism incur high costs to the NHS and are associated with adverse health outcomes. The main causes are musculoskeletal complaints and mental ill-health, which are potentially modifiable, and cardiovascular risk factors are also common. We will test the feasibility of an RCT to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of an employee health screening clinic on reducing sickness absenteeism and presenteeism. Methods: This is an individually randomised controlled pilot trial aiming to recruit 480 participants. All previously unscreened employees from four hospitals within three UK NHS hospital Trusts will be eligible. Those randomised to the intervention arm will be invited to attend an employee health screening clinic consisting of a screening assessment for musculoskeletal (STarT MSK and STarT Back), mental (PHQ-9 and GAD-7) and cardiovascular (NHS Health Check if aged >= 40, lifestyle check if < 40 years) health. Screen positives will be given advice and/or referral to recommended services. Those randomised to the control arm will receive usual care. Participants will complete a questionnaire at baseline and 26 weeks; anonymised absenteeism and staff demographics will also be collected from personnel records. The co-primary outcomes are as follows: recruitment, referrals and uptake of recommended services in the intervention arm. Secondary outcomes include the following: results of screening assessments, uptake of individual referrals, reported changes in health behaviours, acceptability and feasibility of intervention, indication of contamination and costs. Outcomes related to the definitive trial include self-reported and employee records of absenteeism with reasons. Process evaluation to inform a future trial includes interviews with participants, intervention delivery staff and service providers receiving referrals. Analyses will include presentation of descriptive statistics, framework analysis for qualitative data and costs and consequences presented for health economics. Discussion: The study will provide data to inform the design of a definitive RCT which aims to find an effective and cost-effective method of reducing absenteeism and presenteeism amongst NHS staff. The feasibility study will test trial procedures, and process outcomes, including the success of strategies for including underserved groups, and provide information and data to help inform the design and sample size for a definitive trial.

Johanna Spiers, Marta Buszewicz, Carolyn Chew-Graham, Alice Dunning, Anna Kathryn Taylor, Anya Gopfert, Maria Van Hove, Kevin Rui-Han Teoh, Louis Appleby, James Martin, Ruth Riley (2021)What challenges did junior doctors face while working during the COVID-19 pandemic? A qualitative study, In: BMJ open11(12)e056122pp. e056122-e056122 British Medical Journal Publishing Group

ObjectivesThis paper reports findings exploring junior doctors’ experiences of working during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.DesignQualitative study using in-depth interviews with 15 junior doctors. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, anonymised and imported into NVivo V.12 to facilitate data management. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis.SettingNational Health Service (NHS) England.ParticipantsA purposive sample of 12 female and 3 male junior doctors who indicated severe depression and/or anxiety on the DASS-21 questionnaire or high suicidality on Paykel’s measure were recruited. These doctors self-identified as having lived experience of distress due to their working conditions.ResultsWe report three major themes. First, the challenges of working during the COVID-19 pandemic, which were both personal and organisational. Personal challenges were characterised by helplessness and included the trauma of seeing many patients dying, fears about safety and being powerless to switch off. Work-related challenges revolved around change and uncertainty and included increasing workloads, decreasing staff numbers and negative impacts on relationships with colleagues and patients. The second theme was strategies for coping with the impact of COVID-19 on work, which were also both personal and organisational. Personal coping strategies, which appeared limited in their usefulness, were problem and emotion focused. Several participants appeared to have moved from coping towards learnt helplessness. Some organisations reacted to COVID-19 collaboratively and flexibly. Third, participants reported a positive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on working practices, which included simplified new ways of working—such as consistent teams and longer rotations—as well as increased camaraderie and support.ConclusionsThe trauma that junior doctors experienced while working during COVID-19 led to powerlessness and a reduction in the benefit of individual coping strategies. This may have resulted in feelings of resignation. We recommend that, postpandemic, junior doctors are assigned to consistent teams and offered ongoing support.

Ruth Riley, Marta Buszewicz, Farina Kokab, Kevin Teoh, Anya Gopfert, Anna K Taylor, Maria Van Hove, James Martin, Louis Appleby, Carolyn Chew-Graham (2021)Sources of work-related psychological distress experienced by UK-wide foundation and junior doctors: a qualitative study, In: BMJ open11(6)e043521pp. e043521-e043521

ObjectivesThis paper reports findings exploring work cultures, contexts and conditions associated with psychological distress in foundation and junior doctors.DesignQualitative study using in-depth interviews with 21 junior doctor participants. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, anonymised and imported into NVivo V.11 to facilitate data management. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis employing the constant comparative method.SettingNHS in England.ParticipantsA purposive sample of 16 female and five male junior doctor junior doctor participants who self-identified as having stress, distress, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts, or having attempted to kill themselves.ResultsAnalysis reported four key themes: (1) workload and working conditions; (2) toxic work cultures—including abuse and bullying, sexism and racism, culture of blaming and shaming; (3) lack of support; (4) stigma and a perceived need to appear invulnerable.ConclusionThis study highlights the need for future solutions and interventions targeted at improving work cultures and conditions. There needs to be greater recognition of the components and cumulative effects of potentially toxic workplaces and stressors intrinsic to the work of junior doctors, such as the stress of managing high workloads and lack of access to clinical and emotional support. A cultural shift is needed within medicine to more supportive and compassionate leadership and work environments, and a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Johanna Spiers, Marta Buszewicz, Carolyn A Chew-Graham, Ruth Riley (2020)The experiences of general practitioner partners living with distress: An interpretative phenomenological analysis, In: Journal of health psychology25(10-11)pp. 1439-1449

Doctors, including general practitioners, experience higher levels of mental illness than the general population. General practitioners who are partners in their practices may face heightened stress. In total, 10 general practitioner partners living with work-related distress were interviewed, and transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Three major themes arose: (1) extreme distress, (2) conflicted doctor identity and (3) toxic versus supportive workplace relationships. Participants detailed symptoms of depression, anxiety and burnout; reported conflicted identities; and discussed the impact of bullying partnerships. We recommend that organisational interventions tackling issues such as bullying be implemented and opportunities to debrief be offered as protected time activities to general practitioner partners.

Ruth Riley, Farina Kokab, Marta Buszewicz, Anya Gopfert, Maria Van Hove, Anna K. Taylor, Kevin Teoh, James Martin, Louis Appleby, Carolyn Chew-Graham (2021)Protective factors and sources of support in the workplace as experienced by UK foundation and junior doctors: a qualitative study, In: BMJ open11(6)045588pp. e045588-e045588 Bmj Publishing Group

ObjectivesThis paper reports findings identifying foundation and junior doctors' experiences of occupational and psychological protective factors in the workplace and sources of effective support.DesignInterpretative, inductive, qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with 21 junior doctor participants. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, anonymised and imported into NVivo V.11 to facilitate data management. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis employing the constant comparative method.SettingNational Health Service in the UK.ParticipantsParticipants were recruited from junior doctors through social media (eg, the British Medical Association (BMA) junior doctors' Facebook group, Twitter and the mental health research charity websites). A purposive sample of 16 females and 5 males, ethnically diverse, from a range of specialities, across the UK. Junior doctor participants self-identified as having stress, distress, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts or having attempted to kill themselves.ResultsAnalysis identified three main themes, with corresponding subthemes relating to protective work factors and facilitators of support: (1) support from work colleagues - help with managing workloads and emotional support; (2) supportive leadership strategies, including feeling valued and accepted, trust and communication, supportive learning environments, challenging stigma and normalising vulnerability; and (3) access to professional support - counselling, cognitive-behavioural therapy and medication through general practitioners, specialist support services for doctors and private therapy.ConclusionsFindings show that supportive leadership, effective management practices, peer support and access to appropriate professional support can help mitigate the negative impact of working conditions and cultures experienced by junior doctors. Feeling connected, supported and valued by colleagues and consultants acts as an important buffer against emotional distress despite working under challenging working conditions.

Caroline Morgan, Gilles de Wildt, Renata Billion Ruiz Prado, Nisha Thanikachalam, Marcos Virmond, Ruth Riley (2020)Views and Experiences of Adults who are Overweight and Obese on the Barriers and Facilitators to Weight Loss in Southeast Brazil: A Qualitative Study, In: International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being15(1)1852705pp. 1852705-1852705 Taylor & Francis

Background: Obesity in Brazil is increasing with 54% of the Brazilian population being overweight, of which 20% is obese. Obesity is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease: the leading cause of mortality in Brazil. This study aims to identify the barriers and facilitators to weight loss as perceived by patients with a view to reducing the burden of obesity-related diseases on patients and healthcare services. Methods: Fifteen qualitative, semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted in the preventive medicine department in a private health clinic in Bauru, Southeast Brazil. Inductive thematic analysis was conducted. Results: The barriers and facilitators were classified into three themes: lifestyle, motivation and education. Barriers include cost of a healthy lifestyle, time management, personal safety, mobility, junk food advertising, sustaining weight loss, mental health, lack of support and health education. Facilitators include change in eating habits, sleep quality, cooperative food networks, access to the multidisciplinary team and expert patients as health educators. Conclusion: Expert patients should be utilized as an education method, as they increase motivation, promote the facilitators and provide realistic expectations of the weight loss process. Barriers such as junk food advertising and accessibility to treatment need to be addressed.

Niklas Maximilian Auth, Matthew James Booker, Jennifer Wild, Ruth Riley (2022)Mental health and help seeking among trauma-exposed emergency service staff: a qualitative evidence synthesis, In: BMJ open12(2)e047814pp. e047814-e047814 British Medical Journal Publishing Group

ObjectivesTo identify factors and contexts that may contribute to mental health and recovery from psychological difficulties for emergency service workers (ESWs) exposed to occupational trauma, and barriers and facilitators to help-seeking behaviour among trauma-exposed ESWs.BackgroundESWs are at greater risk of stressor-related psychopathology than the general population. Exposure to occupational stressors and trauma contribute to the observed rates of post-trauma psychopathology in this occupational group with implications for workforce sustainability. Types of organisational interventions offered to trauma-exposed ESWs are inconsistent across the UK, with uncertainty around how to engage staff.DesignFour databases (OVID MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and SCOPUS) were systematically searched from 1 January 1980 to March 2020, with citation tracking and reference chaining. A modified Critical Appraisal Skills Programme tool and quality appraisal prompts were used to identify fatally flawed studies. Qualitative studies of trauma-exposure in front-line ESWs were included, and data were extracted using a customised extraction table. Included studies were analysed using thematic synthesis.ResultsA qualitative evidence synthesis was conducted with 24 qualitative studies meeting inclusion criteria, as defined by the PerSPEcTiF framework. Fourteen descriptive themes emerged from this review, categorised into two overarching constructs: (1) factors contributing to mental health (such as the need for downtime, peer support and reassurance) and (2) factors influencing help-seeking behaviour (such as stigma, the content/form/mandatory nature of interventions, and mental health literacy issues including emotional awareness and education).ConclusionESWs reported disconnect between the organisations’ cultural positioning on trauma-related mental health, the reality of undertaking the role and the perceived applicability and usefulness of trauma interventions. Following traumatic exposure, ESWs identify benefitting from recovery time and informal support from trusted colleagues. A culture which encourages help seeking and open dialogue around mental health may reduce stigma and improve recovery from mental ill health associated with trauma exposure.

Alexander Hodkinson, Anli Zhou, Judith Johnson, Keith Geraghty, Ruth Riley, Andrew Zhou, Efharis Panagopoulou, Carolyn A Chew-Graham, David Peters, Aneez Esmail, Maria Panagioti (2022)Associations of physician burnout with career engagement and quality of patient care: systematic review and meta-analysis, In: BMJ (Online)378e070442pp. e070442-e070442 British Medical Journal Publishing Group

AbstractObjectiveTo examine the association of physician burnout with the career engagement and the quality of patient care globally.DesignSystematic review and meta-analysis.Data sourcesMedline, PsycINFO, Embase, and CINAHL were searched from database inception until May 2021.Eligibility criteria for selecting studiesObservational studies assessing the association of physician burnout (including a feeling of overwhelming emotional exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from job defined as depersonalisation, and a sense of ineffectiveness and little personal accomplishment) with career engagement (job satisfaction, career choice regret, turnover intention, career development, and productivity loss) and the quality of patient care (patient safety incidents, low professionalism, and patient satisfaction). Data were double extracted by independent reviewers and checked through contacting all authors, 84 (49%) of 170 of whom confirmed their data. Random-effect models were used to calculate the pooled odds ratio, prediction intervals expressed the amount of heterogeneity, and meta-regressions assessed for potential moderators with significance set using a conservative level of P

Johanna Spiers, Farina Kokab, Marta Buszewicz , Carolyn A. Chew-Graham, Alice Dunning , Anna K. Taylor , Anya Gopfert, Maria van Hove, Kevin Rui-Han Teoh, Louis Appleby, James Martin, Ruth Riley (2022)Recommendations for improving the working conditions and cultures of distressed junior doctors, based on a qualitative study and stakeholder perspectives, In: BMC Health Services Research BMC

Background: Doctors, including junior doctors, are vulnerable to greater levels of distress and mental health difficulties than the public. This is exacerbated by their working conditions and cultures. While this vulnerability has been known for many years, little action has been taken to protect and support junior doctors working in the NHS. As such, we present a series of recommendations from the perspective of junior doctors and other relevant stakeholders, designed to improve junior doctors’ working conditions and, thus, their mental health. Methods: We interviewed 36 junior doctors, asking them for recommendations for improving their working conditions and culture. Additionally, we held an online stakeholder meeting with a variety of healthcare professionals (including junior doctors), undergraduate medical school leads, postgraduate speciality school leads and NHS policymakers where we asked what could be done to improve junior doctors’ working conditions. We combined interview data with notes from the stakeholder discussions to produce this set of recommendations. Results: Junior doctor participants and stakeholders made organisational and interpersonal recommendations. Organisational recommendations include the need for more environmental, staff and educational resources as well as changes to rotas. Interpersonal recommendations include changes to communication and recommendations for better support and teamwork. Conclusion: We suggest that NHS policymakers, employers and managers consider and hopefully implement the recommendations set out by the study participants and stakeholders as reported in this paper and that the gold standards of practice which are reported here (such as examples of positive learning environments and supportive supervision) are showcased so that others can learn from them.

Additional publications