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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

How Might Stress Be Affecting Your Job Performance?

By September 28, 2009

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Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine Program on Physician Well-Being report that stress and fatigue among medical residents are independently linked to self-perceived medical errors. (Previous research linked burnout and fatigue with such medical errors, but this study goes a step further and links stress as an independent factor.) 'Distress', as examined in the study, can include such factors as burnout, depression, financial issues, family concerns or other emotional stress.

“We looked at distress and fatigue together and found that both factors can lead to a significant risk of medical error,” says Colin West, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic physician and lead author of the study, in a press release. “Both fatigue and distress among medical residents represent a potential concern for patient safety.”

The previous research led to the 2008 Institute of Medicine recommendations that resident work hours be controlled.

“While changes have been made to reduce fatigue and sleepiness during residency training, other changes may be necessary to more specifically address distress and burnout,” says Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Mayo physician and senior author. The researchers say their findings may have implications beyond residency training and suggest that more attention to reducing non-fatigue-related distress among physicians may reduce errors and improve patient safety.

This research makes me think about everyone out there--not just medical residents--who may be suffering from fatigue and distress, or just stress: job stress, financial stress, burnout, family stress, other emotional stress, and stress from all causes. Is this stress affecting job performances? And, if so, how so? In this job climate, the stakes are naturally higher, as are stress levels, and mistakes may be more costly, though perhaps more common as well. It brings to mind the importance not only of a good night's sleep, but also of effective stress management. Here are some resources that can help with both:

West CP, Tan AD, Habermann TM, Sloan JA, Shanafelt TD. Association of resident fatigue and distress with perceived medical errors. Journal of the American Medical Association, September 23, 2009.

How might stress and fatigue be affecting your job performance? What, if anything, have you been able to do about it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

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September 30, 2009 at 7:30 pm
(1) Anne says:

When I find myself falling asleep during important meetings, it’s a very public wake-up call for me: “You need more sleep!” I’m not losing sleep over stressful things in my life, it’s more like the stressful things in my life outnumber my hours available for sleep. I think I need to shift priorities…

October 1, 2009 at 2:08 am
(2) Health Advisor says:

Instead of fighting stress we should avoid stress by changing habits and life style

October 22, 2009 at 7:34 am
(3) No_limits58 says:

There is someone one Facebook plagerizing your post as her own. ,

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