Stress & Unhealthy Habits Can Afflict Health Care Workers Too

A new study by Mayo Clinic researchers has found that stress and burnout are major problems faced by medical industry employees and can lead to unhealthy behaviors.

This has led to many companies looking to enroll employees into wellness programs, according to the researchers.

“It’s important to teach individuals to monitor their stress levels over time and practice effective, ongoing stress-reduction strategies, such as getting involved in wellness programs. This will, in turn, help health care employees live a happy and healthy life,” said Matthew Clark, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a resiliency expert at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.

The study measured stress and health behaviors, such as exercise, nutrition and sleep, by a series of five annual surveys administered to 676 participants who are employees at Mayo Clinic and have access to a wellness center.

A significant relationship was found between the stress levels of an employee and four domains of quality of life:

  1. poor physical health;
  2. low mental health;
  3. poor nutritional habits, and;
  4. lower perceived overall health.

Unfortunately, according to the study, employees who reported high stress levels and perceived poor quality of life also reported the lowest usage of wellness programs.

“Increasing the awareness of wellness centers and programs in academic medical environments will increase the quality of life of employees and lead to less physician and staff burnout,” Clark said.

Many companies are taking note of burnout and job strain in their staff and have created wellness centers, offer stress reduction programs, provide wellness coaching and healthy sleep programs for their employees in an effort to reduce stress, job strain and burnout. Muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility exercises are also beneficial to overall quality of life, Clark noted.

“We are beginning to encourage employees to monitor their stress levels and to engage in daily resiliency practices, such as exercise, time with family and friends, meditation or gratitude journaling, to help reduce their stress levels and improve their quality of life,” he added.

Given the significance of stress in the workplace, the researchers noted that exploring ways to effectively engage employees who have high levels of stress into wellness programs warrants further investigation.

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Source: Mayo Clinic