Female doctors have a 50 per cent higher suicide mortality rate (SMR) than women in the general public, while male doctors have a lower SMR than men in the general population, according a systematic review and meta-analysis presented in JAMA Psychiatry.
The analysis used studies which incorporated data from national sources such as the Danish Medical Register on Vital Statistics, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the UK Office of National Statistics. The primary measure was age-standardised SMRs, defined as the ratio of observed deaths in physicians relative to expected deaths in the general population.
Thirty-two articles were included in the systematic review. Nine articles and data sets were included in the meta-analysis.
Compared to women in the general population, female physicians had an SMR of 1.46 (95% CI 1.02-1.91). Male physicians had a significantly lower SMR compared with men in general (SMR 0.67; 95% CI 0.55-0.79).
Data on proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) indicated that suicide makes up a higher proportion of all-cause mortality among doctors than it does for comparable general populations of the same age, sex, and race.
The authors say further research on the factors fuelling physician suicide is critical.