Participating in this study

Abuse in medical training: a narrative study of abuse of doctors by doctors

Principal Investigator: Dr Louise Stone

Central Research Site: Academic Unit of General Practice, ANU Medical School, Canberra Hospital

Recruitment will commence in 2019. If you are interested in the study, please contact Louise at

Before you decide whether or not you wish to participate in this study, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take the time to read the following information carefully and discuss it with others if you wish.

What is the purpose of this study?

The purpose of this study is to better understand the experience of doctors who have been abused by colleagues, so we can prevent abuse and care for doctors who have experienced this sort of trauma more effectively.  The aims of the study are to:

  • Explore how doctors make sense of their experience.
  • Explore the impact the experience has had on their personal and professional lives.
  • Develop guidelines for therapy.
  • Develop policies to prevent further abuse.
  • Challenge the culture that allows the abuse to occur.

What does this study involve?

If you choose to participate, you will have a 10-20 minute initial phone interview to help you decide whether you want to proceed. Participants will then be selected to undertake a research interview. The research interview will be up to 90-120 minutes long. Reviewing your transcripts may involve an additional hour of reading if you choose to do this. Overall, the study involves 3-4 hours in total.

This is a narrative study, so we are interested in your story: not just the events around the abuse, but also what it meant for you in your personal and professional life. The interview will not follow a set series of questions, but will be a conversation where you and the researcher “unpack” your story in detail. After the interview, with your permission, we will share the transcript of the interview with you so you can add comments, or clarify your story. At the conclusion of the study, we will forward a one page summary of the study findings to you. You can choose not to receive further information at any time.

How is this study being paid for?

The study has been funded by individuals and organisations interested in the well-being of doctors.

Are there risks to me in taking part in this study?

It is likely that being interviewed may raise difficult feelings for you. There are risks you may become distressed or angry, and the interview may trigger memories that you had forgotten. These negative feelings can be uncomfortable, but many participants in other studies on sensitive topics have found the process of being interviewed has helped them understand their situation more clearly. We will do everything we can to minimise this discomfort during the interview. We will clarify any concerns you may have about these risks in the initial telephone conversation so you are able to decide whether you are able and willing to participate. You are also free to stop the interview at any time if the interview becomes too distressing.

We cannot guarantee or promise that you will receive any direct benefits from being in the study. However, it is hoped this study will inform therapeutic strategies to help other doctors who have experienced abuse.

All aspects of the study, including the results, will be strictly confidential and only the researchers will have access to information on participants. The only exceptions are required by law.

What if something goes wrong?

The Doctor’s Health Advisory Service, a national, free, confidential, 24 hour telephone service that is staffed by senior doctors experienced in doctors’ health, has agreed to support participants. They will be available to help you if you become distressed after the interview is over. You will also be provided with the contact details for other agencies and services who may support you if you need to seek further help.

Who is organising and funding the research?

This study is being conducted by the study team headed by Dr Louise Stone. The study is being funded by donations from individuals and organisations. Details about funding of the study are available here.

No investigator or member of research staff will receive a personal financial benefit from your involvement in this study. The study doctors declare no personal conflict of interest relevant to the undertaking of this study.

What happens with the results?

Study findings may be published, but you will not be identified in these publications. The data collected from this study will be published in peer reviewed journals, presented at relevant conferences and prepared in one page summaries for organisations responsible for policy around this issue and treatment.

You have a right to receive feedback about the overall results of this study. You can tell us that you wish to receive feedback at the conclusion of the interview. You will receive an email once the transcript has been prepared asking if you wish to receive a copy, and inviting you to comment. At the conclusion of the study, Dr Louise Stone will send a one page summary of the study findings for you to keep if you indicate you wish to receive feedback.

What happens to me when the study is finished?

After the study ends, you may still access advice through the Doctor’s Health Advisory Service. Decisions about any continuing care will be made in consultation between you and your treating health professional.

What should I do if I want to discuss this study further before I decide?

When you have read this information, Dr Louise Stone will be available to discuss it with you further and answer any questions you may have. If you would like to know more at any stage during the study, please feel free to contact Dr Louise Stone, clinical associate professor, Academic Unit of General Practice, ANU Medical School ( or 0432409974).

Thank you for taking the time to consider this study.