Why 55% of health IT professionals are constantly stressed: 7 survey findings

More than half of health IT professionals report being frequently or constantly stressed, and it is taking a toll on their physical and mental wellbeing, finds a new survey from HealthITJobs.com.

The survey gathered responses from nearly 500 health IT professionals in April 2016. Here are seven key findings from the survey.

1. Fifty-five percent of health IT professionals reported being frequently or constantly stressed, 38 percent said their stress is high or extremely high, and 45 percent said their stress occurs on a frequent or constant basis.

2. Key factors correlating with higher frequency of stress include working in management roles, spending more than 11 hours in meetings each week, working more than 51 hours each week, having little control over deadlines, being given an unrealistic amount of work to complete in a certain time and exercising no more than one day per week.

3. Less predictable than the above factors contributing to higher stress levels is that health IT professionals who travel more than 15 nights a month were more likely to report lower levels of stress than individuals who travel less frequently.

4. Respondents' top stressor is having little to no control over deadlines and timelines for projects, with 45 percent indicating this to be so. Other top stressors include constantly changing work priorities (39 percent), workload (35 percent), unreasonable expectations (34 percent) and unclear expectations (32 percent).

5. While managers are often the ones dictating workload and expectations — which respondents indicated as top stressors — few respondents (15 percent) said their managers are a top source of stress. Instead, the top three adjectives respondents used to describe their managers were "supportive," "trusts me" and "smart."

6. However, among respondents who did indicate their manager is a source of stress, two-thirds said they are the No. 1 cause of stress.

7. Stress at work affects health IT professionals' lifestyle. More than one-third of respondents (36 percent) said they sleep six hours or less each night, and 46 percent said they either don't exercise or exercise just one day a week. Twenty-seven percent said their physical health is less than ideal or poor. Respondents reporting higher stress levels also reported lower exercise levels, and the converse is also true: Respondents reporting lower stress levels reported higher exercise levels. This suggests frequent exercise is linked to lower stress levels.

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