UCL News


Cancer doctors are 'stressed out'

31 August 2005

Cancer specialists are under enormous pressures and are suffering from emotional exhaustion as a result, researchers warn.

Working conditions deteriorated and stress levels increased substantially for such doctors in the eight years since 1994, Cancer Research UK found.

The proportion of consultants reporting distress climbed from 27% to 32%.

The Lancet paper blamed understaffing, high workload volumes to meet targets and poor support for the trend. …

[Lead author and occasional lecturer at UCL's Centre for Health Informatics & Multiprofessional Education Centre] Cath Taylor's work suggests boosting staff numbers had not combated the stress of workload demands, based on surveys done in 1994, involving 880 doctors, and 2002, involving1,308 doctors.

The number of medical oncologists being appointed increased by 147%, surgical oncologists by 45% and clinical oncologists (radiotherapists) by 33% between 1994 and 2002.

Despite this, radiotherapists and surgeons specialising in cancer care reported increasing mental stress and emotional exhaustion.

Among surgeons, rates of mental distress rose from 22% to 33% and emotional exhaustion from 27% to 41%, while among radiotherapists the rates were 28% to 38% and 39% to 52% from 1994-2002, respectively.

BBC News Online