New Study Shows Health Care Workers Suffer High Workplace Stress

January 27, 2010, 2:38 PM EST


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An in-depth study of four Ottawa area hospitals has found that hospital workers are suffering from high levels of stress and overload at a time when they also face threats of funding freezes, layoffs and bed cutbacks.

The new study of "role overload" in Canada's health care system was based on a survey of 1,500 health care workers at the four hospitals. They were overwhelmingly women and more than 75 per cent were married, and had children.

The study, which was funded by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, confirmed that health care workers are some of the most stressed and overwhelmed workers in the country. The report found that 60 per cent had high levels of "role overload" - defined as having too much to do in too short a time period, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

"In my opinion, health care workers are already overloaded," said Linda Duxbury, study co-author and Carleton University business professor. "There is no slack in the system." She also told the Citizen that "the way hospitals are funded and performance is measured doesn't really reflect what's happening in health care."

CAW Health Care Director Katha Fortier said that the study results come as no surprise. "We know that women perform the vast majority of unpaid work, and we also know that as hospital employees are cut, the remaining workers continue to provide the same level of care, even if that means working through their breaks or taking on personal risks to meet the needs of their patients."

CAW President Ken Lewenza noted that our hospitals face service cuts and staff reductions at a time when they are needed more than ever. "Government must protect the important principle of ensuring high quality care for everyone," Lewenza said. "They must ensure that these hospitals are properly funded with no layoffs occurring. When our hospital workers are taken care of, they are then able to pass that care directly on to the vulnerable patients they care for."

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