Problematic internet use and its correlates among resident doctors of a tertiary care hospital of North India: A cross-sectional study (2018)

Asian J Psychiatr. 2018 Nov 26;39:42-47. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2018.11.018.

Grover S1, Sahoo S2, Bhalla A3, Avasthi A2.



Problematic Internet use/ Internet addiction (IA) has gained the attention of mental health professionals recently and studies have found that medical professionals are not immune to IA with prevalence rate ranging from 2.8 to 8%. Few studies from India have also reported high rates of IA among medical students. The term ‘Problematic internet use’ is being increasing used nowadays in place of IA as it signifies a better terminology than the word ‘addiction’ per se. However, there is lack of information among resident doctors.


To evaluate the prevalence of problematic Internet use and its association with depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and health care outcomes among resident doctors working in a government funded tertiary care Institute.


An online e-mail survey was carried out among medical professionals (a total of 1721 doctors) in a tertiary care hospital located in Chandigarh, India out of whom 376 responded. The residents doctors were the postgraduate trainees (MBBS) and those residents who have complete post-graduation and working as senior residents/registrar (MBBS, MD/MS). They were in the age group ranging from 24 to 39 years. The survey included Young’s Internet addiction test (IAT), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale, Maslach Burnout Inventory and a self designed questionnaire to assess the health care related outcomes.


On IAT, 142 residents (37.8%) scored <20 i.e., normal users and 203 residents (54%) had mild addiction. Only 31 residents (8.24%) had moderate addiction category, none of the residents had severe IA (score>80). Those with IA reported higher level of depressive symptoms, perceived stress and burnout. There was positive association between ever use of alcohol and watching pornography (as a part of recreational activities) with IA. Significantly higher proportion of those with IA, reported having faced physical abuse and verbal abuse in the hands of the patients/caregivers.


The present study suggests that about 8.24% of resident doctors have Problematic internet use/IA. Problematic internet use/IA is associated with presence of higher level of depressive symptoms, perceived stress and burn out. Further, Problematic internet use/IA is also associated with higher likelihood of facing violence in the hands of patients and their caregivers.

KEYWORDS:  Addiction; Internet; Resident doctors

PMID: 30529568

DOI: 10.1016/j.ajp.2018.11.018