Radiology staff report satisfaction, burnout during pandemic

2022 10 06 22 16 9898 Doctor Staff India Tea 400

In a new survey of medical imaging staff in India, most respondents reported at least some degree of satisfaction with their careers, but they also reported symptoms of burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study was published October 3 in the Journal of Radiology Nursing.

Researchers led by Dolly Sharma from Charotar University of Science and Technology (CHARUSAT) in Changa, Gujarat, also found that radiologic technologists and male staff that they surveyed reported higher levels of compassion satisfaction.

"The findings of this study are vital to understand the work-related quality of life among healthcare professionals not only during COVID-19 pandemic, but also after the pandemic situation," Sharma and colleagues wrote.

Professional quality of life has come under the microscope among healthcare workers in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with burnout being a persistent threat that can negatively impact overall quality of life. Patient care quality and efficiency can also be negatively impacted -- and patient safety incidents may be more common -- when staff are burned out.

Compassion satisfaction is the satisfaction that professionals gain from their ability to do their jobs well and from their enjoyment of their careers. Professionals with lower compassion satisfaction (also known as compassion fatigue) usually find happiness in activities other than their regular jobs or have issues with their work profiles.

Previous research indicates that radiologists experienced high stress and fear of being infected with COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic. They also reported long working hours and "constant" work pressure. Researchers also noted a lack of evidence on professional quality of life for the medical imaging field.

Therefore, Sharma and colleagues wanted to add to the literature by measuring the quality of life among radiographers (also known as radiologic technologists) and radiologists during the pandemic. They surveyed 153 medical imaging staff members.

Out of the total, 70.6% of survey respondents reported a moderate level of compassion satisfaction, with 28.1% reporting a high level. Meanwhile, 1.3% reported low compassion satisfaction levels.

The researchers also looked at differences in data for satisfaction and stress between radiologists and technologists, as well as between male and female staff.

Comparison of satisfaction, stress levels among medical imaging staff
  Radiologist Technologist Men Women
Moderate compassion satisfaction 75.7% 70% 74.1% 66.7%
High compassion satisfaction 24.3% 30% 23.5% 33.3%
Moderate amount of burnout 62.2% 74.1% 75.4% 66.7%
Moderate amount of secondary traumatic stress 70.3% 69% 70% 66.7%

The study authors acknowledged that with radiologists and radiologic technologists playing a key role in clinical medicine, staff members in this area work continuously and closely with patients for long hours to acquire images. Ergo, chances of feeling stressed, burned out, and exhausted are high.

With the pandemic creating uncertainty and overload for radiology staff through department-wide protocol changes, researchers wrote that their results show higher burnout levels compared with studies from other countries. This includes studies conducted among allied health professionals in India.

"The current area of professional quality of life among health care workers needs to be explored, as the quality of life plays a vital role in the work-related outputs and provide quality service to the patients," the authors wrote.

Sharma et al called for larger studies with wider geographic distribution that focus on measuring compassion satisfaction and burnout levels. They added that there is a need for quantitative and qualitative evaluations to further develop evidence on the professional quality of life among healthcare professionals.

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