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Stress and coping among consultant physicians working in Saudi Arabia

Fahad Dakheel Alosaimi,a Hossam Saleh Alawad,a Ayedh Khalaf Alamri,a Abdullah Ibrahim Saeed,a Khalid Ayidh Aljuaydi,a Alwaleed Sami Alotaibi,a Khalid Munawir Alotaibi,a Eiad Abdelmohsen Alfarisb

From the aDepartment of Psychiatry, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; bDepartment of Family and Community Medicine, King Saud University Chair for the Development of Medical Education, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

How to cite this article:

Alosaimi FD, Alawad HS, Alamri AK, Saeed AI, Aljuaydi KA, Alotaibi AS, et al. Stress and coping among consultant physicians working in Saudi Arabia. Ann Saudi Med 2018; 38(3): 214-224.

DOI: 10.5144/0256-4947.2018.214


BACKGROUND: Exposure to stressful working conditions without adequate stress-coping strategies may lead to stress and even psychiatric morbidity. There are a dearth of studies on stress-coping strategies among consultant physicians in the Arabian Gulf. 


OBJECTIVES: Determine stress-coping strategies among consultants in Saudi Arabia and the relationship of strategies to level of stress. 


DESIGN: Analytical cross-sectional study.


SETTINGS: Conducted between November 2014 and March 2015 among physician consultants registered at the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties. 


SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Text messages were used to directly ask consultants to complete an online questionnaire. 

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The 28-item Brief COPE inventory and the Perceived Stress Scale.




RESULTS: The consultants were largely males (71%) and Saudi (56%), and their mean age was 46.9 (7.9) years. Adaptive stress-coping strategies were more frequently used than maladaptive stress-coping strategies (68% versus 49%). Stress levels were positively correlated with maladaptive stress-coping strategies (r=0.41, P<.001) and negatively correlated with adaptive stress-coping strategies (r=-0.09, P=.026). Religion was the most frequently reported stress-coping strategy (79.6%) while alcohol drinking or substance use was the least frequently reported stress-coping strategy (28.0%). Females used both adaptive and maladaptive stress-coping strategies more than males (P=.002 and P<.001, respectively). Stress management education/training was positively associated with frequent use of adaptive stress-coping strategies. 


CONCLUSIONS: Physician consultants generally cope well with work stressors. Nevertheless, there is still a critical need for stress management programs targeting consultants in order to further improve coping strategies. 


LIMITATIONS: The low response rate may negatively impact the validity and the generalizability of the current findings. The cross-sectional study design precluded the finding of any causal association. 




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