In a survey of 401 oncology registrars, 102 scored above the threshold for possible psychiatric morbidity and more than one in ten showed clinically important levels of depression.
Professor Chris Todd from the University's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work and Christie Hospital, Manchester says: "It is clear that specialist registrars training in cancer and palliative care are experiencing high levels of stress. A number of contributing factors have been identified and should be addressed. It would seem to be a dreadful waste of the current £200,000 invested in training to specialist registrar level to put them under such stress that they are unable to treat patients effectively, themselves experience psychological suffering perhaps requiring healthcare, increased sickness absence or even leave the profession prematurely."
The team found 102 oncology registrars with levels of psychological distress, 44 had scores indicating depression and 15 expressed suicidal ideas. The main reasons cited by the respondents were being over-stretched at times, keeping up-to-date with knowledge, fear of making mistakes, talking to distressed relatives, the effect of long working hours on personal/family life and conflict between work and family commitment. These were especially pertinent for medical oncology registrars.
Other reasons, which were more important to palliative care registrars, were making the right decision as a team, feeling under-utilised, low prestige of speciality and difficult relations with nursing staff. Clinical oncology registrars also reported a lack of senior support/supervision. Better support and supervision for all these specialists could alleviate stress. The study also found that the effect of stress on personal/family life was the dominant predictor of depression, which tallied with studies of other specialties.
MEDICA.de; Source: The University of Manchester