Improving Health Professionals' State of Health

Written by: Karmen Resnik, BSc Health Psychology, MRes Neuroscience

Many of us would take health professionals' state of health for granted. But, according to the newest researches, we are still far from that. That is why we decided to get involved in ill-health prevention among Slovenian medical workers as well. The research was performed in cooperation with Medical Chamber of Slovenia, UMC Ljubljana, UMC Maribor, and Faculty of Medicine, Ljubljana. We focused on work-related stress, which is often causing psycho-physical burdens and even occupational burnout.

Job Strain among Slovene Medical Workers

Due to high workload and high expectations of them, doctors and other medical workers often do not pay enough attention to their health and wellbeing, and do not spend enough time taking care of it. Being exposed to long-term stress can cause negative consequences on health and can lead to burnout, development of stress-related diseases, even early death and higher risk for work mistakes that could jeopardize patients' safety.

Research about Job Strain among Doctors, Anesthesiologists, and Nurses

First scientific research of occupational stress was performed on Mayo Clinic. In the similar way we approached stress load among Slovenian doctors of family medicine, anesthesiologists, and surgical nurses. The measured parameters were based on the work-risk evaluation for these working positions. We used the 24alife solution as a tool for tracking and monitoring the health parameters and activities. The research showed the following findings:

  • Medical workers' feelings about job strain were consistent with the level of the stress hormone in their blood samples, thus we can claim that participants' stress-experience was objective.
  • Concentration of stress hormones among group of older participants was also correlated with higher concentration of dysfunctional immune cells.
  • We were able to correlate stress with increased number of mistakes at work among workers with higher overtime work.
  • We noticed psychological indicators accompanying stress, such as work dissatisfaction, being unable to fulfill the work tasks, and lower focus at work.
  • Lower sleep quality due to overload was noticed as another chronic stress consequence.

More about the research and its findings was presented by Alojz Ihan, Ph.D. on the 3rd International HLS (Healthy Lifestyle Symposium). Videos of the 3rd HLS are available on our website.

How to Manage Stress, Prevent the Burnout, and Decrease Sick Leave among Employees

We cannot eliminate stress from our work environment but we can manage it. If we support our employees with ill-health prevention programs and boost their stress resilience, everyday work challenges wouldn't cause extreme consequences, such as burnout, and at the same time we decrease sick leave among employees. Stress management at work is a great investment into your company. Therefore, it is more than important to encourage and support your employees to successfully cope with stress at work and in private lives.