Aim Evaluation of stress and its causes in UK gastroenterologists,
Design Questionnaire emailed to all 1932 medical members of the British Society of Gastroenterology.
Results Of 567 respondents (29%), 107 (20%) graded their stress level as 4 or 5 out of 5. Stress levels correlated inversely with self- reported happiness levels (r=−0.60; p<0.001) and with hours slept per night (r=−0.23; p<0.01) and correlated directly with % time off-duty thinking about work (r=0.46; p<0001) and with proportion of nights with broken sleep (r=0.30; p<0.01). Due to stress over the past year, 21% of respondents reported one of the following: consulting their general practitioner (7%), attending occupational health (5%), taking planned time off (7%), taking anxiolytics/antidepressants (6%) and considering suicide (5.5%). These respondents had higher stress and lower happiness levels than the remainder. Stress levels were higher in women and in those working full time but had no other demographic associations.
The main causes of stress were excessive clinical work (ranked highest by 47% and most commonly patient-related administration), working conditions beyond control (ranked highest by 15% and most commonly inadequate information technology systems, workspace and secretarial staff) and conflict (ranked highest by 9%). Of eight potential factors, happiness with work showed the closest associations with overall happiness (positive) and overall stress (negative) levels. Talking to someone at work about stress was ranked difficult or impossible by 35%. The highest ranked suggested solutions were relief from some duties and mentoring.
Conclusions: Stress is common and has objective correlates in UK gastroenterologists. The main cause is excessive workload.