US Political Events Affect the Mood of Young Physicians

Last modified: December 10, 2019

In a study featured at The BMJ’s December issue, it was revealed that major political events, such as the presidential election and inauguration, had a significant impact on the mood of young US doctors. 

A mood increase was observed among young physicians when political events had outcomes that were in line with liberal political ideologies. On the other hand, events with outcomes in line with conservative political ideologies were linked to a mood decrease. The researchers then concluded that young doctors may identify as liberal. 

Seeing that the debates about politicized social issues and healthcare have become prominent over the past few years, the researchers decided to do a study on the impact of major political events on young US doctors, particularly on their mood.   

There were nine political events included in the study such as the presidential election and inauguration (2016), US-Mexico border wall funding, and the Muslim travel ban, just to name a few. The doctors’ average mood was measured one week after each event; comparisons were done against the average mood over the next four weeks. 

The researchers reported that significant mood changes were observed in six out of nine political events. The biggest decline in mood was seen after the 2016 election and inauguration; the Muslim travel ban; and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Non-political events (Hurricane Irma, Super Bowl, and Florida mass shooting), which were also included in the analysis, didn’t seem to have an impact on the young doctors’ mood.

The study further revealed that women were particularly affected by the 2016 election results. According to the researchers, the political discourse regarding gender and sexism issues could have possibly affected women in a negative way. 

In conclusion, the research findings implied that politics and medicine may correlate with each other, affecting the current status of healthcare. Hence, the implications of major political events to doctors (and patients) should be carefully considered. 

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