Navigating Burnout within the Changing Context of the NHS: An Exploration into the Experiences of General Practitioners

Shaw, Philippa 2021. Navigating Burnout within the Changing Context of the NHS: An Exploration into the Experiences of General Practitioners. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Social Sciences https://doi.org/10.34737/vvqy3

TitleNavigating Burnout within the Changing Context of the NHS: An Exploration into the Experiences of General Practitioners
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsShaw, Philippa
Abstract

General practice currently faces major challenges, including a staffing crisis, unprecedented pressures, and a high prevalence of mental ill-health among general practitioners. In the context of the current turbulence in the NHS, however, there is a scarcity of qualitative research exploring general practitioners’ poor wellbeing, particularly regarding their experiences of burnout and recovery. Thus, the research presented in this thesis aimed to address this gap in the literature by answering the research question: what are the experiences of GPs with poor occupational wellbeing within the current healthcare context?
Study 1 explored the nature of general practitioner distress through a thematic synthesis of published qualitative research. The findings showed that general practitioners felt devalued, experienced voicelessness, and there was a need to further research burnout experiences qualitatively. Therefore, Study 2 investigated the lived experiences of general practitioners’ burnout using an interpretative phenomenological approach. This interview study found that general practitioners experiencing burnout felt trapped and conflicted in their role, which had implications for their identity and recovery. These burnout outcomes were perceived as enduring. Study 3 subsequently investigated the effectiveness of support received through an NHS service by general practitioners in distress. Statistically significant improvements in mental health over a year were found for participants who engaged with the assessments. To explore in more depth general practitioners’ recovery from burnout, a subset of these participants (those who self-identified as having overcome burnout) were recruited for Study 4. Narratives and participant-generated photographs provided insight into the importance of the social context, settings and being open to broader perspectives in the experience of recovery, plus indicating the potential for growth through adversity.
The understanding gained through this research sharpens the focus on the unheard and nuanced narratives of general practitioner burnout and recovery. This advancement in knowledge is particularly timely given the imminent challenges that general practice faces in light of the additional pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year2021
File
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
PublishedDec 2021
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.34737/vvqy3

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