A recent survey from HealthITJobs.com finds that many of the 470 health information technology professionals who responded have high stress levels, with large numbers saying they are frequently or constantly stressed. Here is a review of the problem.
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Health IT jobs are stressful, the job site vendor notes, but survey results suggest stress has more to do with individual circumstances than job titles. “Time spent in meetings, hours worked per week and whether or not an individual manages other people are all factors in determining how likely health IT professionals are to say they are stressed. Even factors such as how frequently they exercise and how much energy they have may be related to stress levels.”
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Lifestyle impacting stress
More than a third of respondents six or fewer hours of sleep, one-half exercise just once a week or not at all, one-third third rate their physical health as okay, and a quarter rate it less than ideal or poor. Only one-quarter wake up with a high level of energy.
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While health IT managers are more likely to report higher levels of stress than professionals with other titles, the survey did not find one job title that is particularly more stressful than others. Rather, certain factors, such as time in meetings, workload, control over deadlines and hours worked weekly, that most impact stress levels.
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Managers hit hard
Those most frequently stressed are more likely to work in IT management, spend more than 11 hours a week in meetings, work more than 51 hours a week, have very little control over deadlines, face an unrealistic amount of work, constantly changing priorities and unclear expectations, and do not frequently exercise.
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For others, management not necessarily the problem
Despite managers often dictating workloads and expectations, only 15 percent of respondents cited their managers among the top three sources of their stress. In large part, they have positive feelings about their managers. For the few who cite a manager as a source of stress, two-thirds ranked the manager as the No. 1 cause.
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Cordial relations help
Health IT professionals not only generally like their managers, but their colleagues as well. Only 9 percent of respondents say co-workers are one of their top three sources of stress. A large majority hold their colleagues in high esteem.
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Some 55 percent of respondents say they are frequently or constantly stressed, with nearly 40 percent rating the level as high or extremely high. Very few report a low level of stress.
“Health IT professionals may not be directly responsible for saving lives, but their projects and tasks impact the ability of healthcare providers to care for patients,” HealthITJobs.com notes. The vendor recommends using data to recognize causes of stress, then addressing the factors by reducing hours spent in meetings while improving the quality of meetings, giving employees more control over project milestones and due dates, setting clear expectations, and having more consistent priorities.