Multidimensional Factors Shaped Physician Stress During Pandemic

Physicians' perceptions of occupational stress at individual level were shaped by stressors within and across 4 levels.

HealthDay News Multidimensional systems factors shaped occupational stress among physicians during the pandemic, according to a study published online Nov. 3 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Mara Buchbinder, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted semistructured interviews in February to October 2021 to examine the multidimensional systems factors shaping occupational stress during the pandemic for hospital physicians. A sample of 40 physicians from 14 hospitals in New York City and 39 physicians from nine hospitals in New Orleans was included.

The researchers found that multiple factors shaping occupational stress were identified by the physicians, including individual-level factors such as age, work experience, and stage of life; institutional-level factors, which included resource disparities, institutional type and size, and policies; professional-level factors such as informal rationing and medical uncertainty; and societal-level factors, including the federal response, COVID-19 politics, and social inequalities. Physicians’ perceptions of occupational stress at the individual level were shaped by stressors within and across these four levels working in combination.

“Our findings suggest that physicians are affected by upstream social and political societal stressors that have been less well explored in the clinician burnout literature,” the authors write. “Interventions to reduce physician stress and burnout may be more effective if they target systems factors and stressors at multiple levels.”

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