Job autonomy has a significant effect on NHS consultants


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
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Job autonomy has significant negative effects on the frequency of anxiety and depressive symptoms among NHS consultant and affects their intention to retire early, new research in the BMJ Open suggests.

In the cross-sectional observational study, 593 NHS consultants from hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales, completed online questionnaires on work-related pressure, job autonomy, emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and early retirement intention.

Four out of 10 consultants surveyed reported a high frequency of anxiety symptoms and more than a third of the sample were categorised as having a high degree of depressive symptoms. A significant proportion demonstrated signs of burnout, with 38.7 per cent reporting a high level of emotional exhaustion and 20.74 per cent reporting depersonalisation.

Men and older consultants were more likely to experience a high frequency of anxiety symptoms, as were those with less experience (all P<.01 consultants in wales had more frequent anxiety symptoms compared with those scotland>

Being older and less experienced (both P<.01 was associated with more frequent depressive symptoms. of the specialties included obstetrics and gynaecology consultants reported less symptoms than physicians>

Intention to retire early was not associated with any of the sociodemographic variables measured but emotional exhaustion positively predicted intentions to seek early retirement (P<.05>

This is the first study of NHS consultants to show that job autonomy has a significant effect on psychological symptoms and the decision to retire early.