Medical Education


GMC study 1997-99

In 1997 we were commissioned by the General Medical Council (GMC) to carry out a survey of the attitudes of UK doctors to its advice booklet Good Medical Practice and to the newly introduced Performance Procedures. We studied three separate samples of doctors, in 1997, 1998 and 1999, each stratified by age, sex, and area of practice (hospital vs general practice). The questionnaire was perhaps the most beautiful questionnaire that I have ever been involved with, particularly in its use of colour; it was designed by Sandy Patience. The questionnaire consisted in its main part of four A4 sides, with two additional sides for comments and information (questionnaire in colour; questionnaire in black and white). As well as asking about the Performance Procedures the survey also provided valuable information about stress, and burnout in a nationally representative sample. Those responding in the survey were also followed  up three years later. Publications from this study include papers on attitudes in the 1997 survey, and changes in attitudes from 1997 to 1999. A separate but related study was carried out using the opinion pollster MORI, comparing the attitudes of a population sample with a medical sample.

Although the main thrust of these studies was to assess attitudes towards the Performance Procedures, the samples also provided excellent data for assessing the rate of stress in UK doctors and the causal links between stress and burnout (and see also the correspondence on that topic).

Cover of Good Medical Practice