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December 25, 2018

Potential Risks and Benefits of Mental Health Screening of Physicians

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, New York
  • 2New York University School of Medicine, New York
  • 3Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA. 2018;320(24):2527-2528. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.18403

Physicians are familiar with the yearly routine of being screened for tuberculosis, reviewing their vaccine status, and getting the influenza vaccination. Should physicians also be screened for mental health conditions such as depression or burnout?

The prevalence of and challenges associated with depression, burnout, and suicide have been increasingly recognized. Physicians die by suicide at rates higher than the general population, and suicides are more often related to job stress and inadequate treatment.1 Although definitive data on comparative rates of mental illness among physicians are lacking, resident physicians likely experience depression more than the general population.2