Inappropriate behaviours experienced by doctors while undertaking specialty training

Sotoodeh Abhary, Mari Botti, Anjali Dhulia, Erwin Loh, John Catford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose To explore inappropriate behaviours experienced during specialty training in Australia and their implications for doctors' training experiences and outcomes. This is a subset of data from a larger study exploring experiences of doctors in Australian specialty training - a qualitative study of enablers, stressors and supports. Methods In this qualitative study, registrars in specialist training programmes in Australia were invited and interviewed between August 2015 and August 2016. Semistructured open-ended questions were used to explore topics of relevance to their workplace, training, support service use and personal lives. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, de-identified and content and thematic analysis undertaken. Recruitment was ceased when data saturation was reached and no new themes emerged. Key themes related to inappropriate behaviours experienced during specialty training are reported in this study. Results 17 participants were recruited (including one Indigenous and one international medical graduate). A total of six specialty training programmes across multiple states at various locations across Australia were represented in this cohort. Almost all participants reported confronting (personally experienced or witnessed) inappropriate behaviours during their training, perpetrated most commonly by senior doctors. Key themes of inappropriate behaviour that emerged were belittling and humiliation, sexually inappropriate behaviour, inappropriate behaviour as part of the 'culture' of medicine, reluctance to raise concerns due to fear of recrimination, and impacts of inappropriate behaviour. Conclusion Varying inappropriate behaviours were experienced by doctors in specialty training, having implications for their psychological well-being. A multidimensional and multisystem approach is required in the management of this serious issue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-143
Number of pages4
JournalBMJ Leader
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • behaviour
  • bullying and harassment
  • medical leadership
  • mental health
  • professionalism
  • trainees

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