Job stress and job satisfaction of physicians, radiographers, nurses and physicists working in radiotherapy: a multicenter analysis by the DEGRO Quality of Life Work Group.Radiat Oncol 2009; 4:6RO
Ongoing changes in cancer care cause an increase in the complexity of cases which is characterized by modern treatment techniques and a higher demand for patient information about the underlying disease and therapeutic options. At the same time, the restructuring of health services and reduced funding have led to the downsizing of hospital care services. These trends strongly influence the workplace environment and are a potential source of stress and burnout among professionals working in radiotherapy.
METHODS AND PATIENTS
A postal survey was sent to members of the workgroup "Quality of Life" which is part of DEGRO (German Society for Radiooncology). Thus far, 11 departments have answered the survey. 406 (76.1%) out of 534 cancer care workers (23% physicians, 35% radiographers, 31% nurses, 11% physicists) from 8 university hospitals and 3 general hospitals completed the FBAS form (Stress Questionnaire of Physicians and Nurses; 42 items, 7 scales), and a self-designed questionnaire regarding work situation and one question on global job satisfaction. Furthermore, the participants could make voluntary suggestions about how to improve their situation.
Nurses and physicians showed the highest level of job stress (total score 2.2 and 2.1). The greatest source of job stress (physicians, nurses and radiographers) stemmed from structural conditions (e.g. underpayment, ringing of the telephone) a "stress by compassion" (e.g. "long suffering of patients", "patients will be kept alive using all available resources against the conviction of staff"). In multivariate analyses professional group (p < 0.001), working night shifts (p = 0.001), age group (p = 0.012) and free time compensation (p = 0.024) gained significance for total FBAS score. Global job satisfaction was 4.1 on a 9-point scale (from 1 - very satisfied to 9 - not satisfied). Comparing the total stress scores of the hospitals and job groups we found significant differences in nurses (p = 0.005) and physicists (p = 0.042) and a borderline significance in physicians (p = 0.052).In multivariate analyses "professional group" (p = 0.006) and "vocational experience" (p = 0.036) were associated with job satisfaction (cancer care workers with < 2 years of vocational experience having a higher global job satisfaction). The total FBAS score correlated with job satisfaction (Spearman-Rho = 0.40; p < 0.001).
Current workplace environments have a negative impact on stress levels and the satisfaction of radiotherapy staff. Identification and removal of the above-mentioned critical points requires various changes which should lead to the reduction of stress.