Why Healthcare Workers are Prone to Stress and Anxiety?

Studies have proven time and time again that being exposed to stress for too long may lower a person’s efficiency and could trigger negative consequences on one’s health or family and social life.

However, not every manifestation of stress is always work-related as some of them may be caused by various factors. As a matter of fact, some professions are inherently more stressful than others. Professions that require human contact and quick decision-making skills are among the most stressful ones.

According to a study, healthcare professions are among the most stressful jobs. But not all health professionals develop the same level of stress, and not all of them develop signs of professional burnout either. In general, healthcare professionals are more prone to stress and professional burnout because they are responsible for human lives and their actions.

Here are the common causes of stress and anxiety among healthcare workers:

Dealing with death

Healthcare workers who are exposed to sickness, trauma and violence report that dealing with death is their first source of stress. They play critical roles in preventing death, and they also help patients and their family members with advanced directives, and end-of-life decision-making. Also, the stress associated with death and dying contributes to the risks that take a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of nurses.

Excessive workload

For nurses and medical staff who work in Internal Medicine or Surgical Departments, dealing with the excess workload is their key job stressor. A heavy workload due to a shortage of staff can lead to distress like cynicism, anger, and emotional exhaustion, and burnout. They may not be able to perform efficiently and effectively because their physical and cognitive resources may be reduced. The high workload in the form of time pressure also may reduce the attention they devote to safety-critical tasks, thus creating conditions for errors and unsafe patient care.

Long working hours

Some studies have shown that long working hours contribute to psychological stress and work stress among healthcare workers. Working 10 or more hours per day, or more overtime hours per month tended to create stressful feelings. In fact, this occupational issue increases the chance of experiencing depression and anxiety and elevates smoking, drinking, and physical inactivity among healthcare employees.

Poor working conditions

Studies have shown that millions of nursing hours are lost to injury and illness annually. Job dissatisfaction of nurses can lead to low morale, absenteeism, turnover, and poor job performance because of factors such as poorly maintained facilities and lack of growth support. This suboptimal performance may potentially threaten patient care and safety.

Deteriorated motivation

The lack of support from colleagues and higher rank staff, conflicts among members of the therapeutic team, vague roles, different hierarchy ranks, lack of an organizational structure, and administration-related factors have their share regarding stress and anxiety among healthcare workers. Having unsupportive management has also been considered as a major issue and the reason why nurses and other ancillary staff leave their profession.

Do you feel lost or overwhelmed because of these work-related stress? Read here some tips to stay motivated or visit my website for more topics about nursing. You could also listen to my Nurse X’s and O’s podcast where we dive deep into the lives and careers of nurses and healthcare professionals.


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