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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Emergency Physicians in the United States

  • Author(s): DeLucia, Joseph A.
  • Bitter, Cindy
  • Fitzgerald, Jennifer
  • Greenberg, Miggie
  • Dalwari, Preeti
  • Buchanan, Paula
  • et al.

Introduction: There is increasing concern about the effects of occupational stressors on thewellness of healthcare providers. Given high patient acuity, circadian rhythm disruption, andother workplace stressors, emergency physicians (EP) would be predicted to have high rates ofoccupational stress. We conducted this study to assess the prevalence of post-traumatic stressdisorder (PTSD) in attending EPs practicing in the United States.

Methods: A link to an electronic questionnaire was distributed through the emergency medicinecentricpublication Emergency Medicine News. We compared the prevalence of PTSD in EPs tothe general population using a chi-square goodness of fit test, and performed logistic regression toassess for significance of risk factors.

Results: We received survey responses from 526 persons. In this study, EPs had a PTSD pointprevalence of 15.8%. Being a victim of a prior trauma or abuse is the primary predictor of PTSD(odds ratio [OR] [95% confidence interval {CI}, 2.16 (1.21 – 3.86)], p = 0.009) and PTSD severityscore (OR [95% CI, 1.16 (1.07 – 1.26)], p <0.001).

Conclusion: Emergency physicians have a substantial burden of PTSD, potentially jeopardizingtheir own health and career longevity. Future studies should focus on identifying subgroups at higherrisk for PTSD and modifiable risk factors. Prevention and treatment strategies should be developedand tested in healthcare providers.

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