BACKGROUND It is widely suggested that many National Health Service (NHS) workers experience high levels of minor psychiatric disorder. However, inadequacies of sampling and measurement in studies to date have not allowed this suggestion to be properly evaluated.
METHOD The present study was designed to overcome these methodological weaknesses by using a sample of over 11,000 employees from 19 NHS trusts and a well-established measure of minor psychiatric disorder for which there are comparative data.
RESULTS The findings show that 26.8% of the health service workers reported significant levels of minor psychiatric disorder, compared with 17.8% of people in the general population. Psychiatric morbidity was highest among managers, doctors, nurses and professions allied to medicine, with each of these groups recording higher rates than their professional counterparts outside the health service. It was lower among those in support occupations, such as administrative and ancillary staff. A feature of the findings was that female doctors and managers showed a much higher prevalence of minor psychiatric disorder than their male colleagues.
CONCLUSION Studies are required to establish the organisational, occupational and individual determinants of minor psychiatric disorder among NHS employees.