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July 1995

Stress in Pediatric Faculty: Results of a National Survey

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics and Steele Memorial Children's Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson (Drs Barton and Locke); and the Department of Pediatrics, St Louis (Mo) University (Dr Friedman). Deceased.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(7):751-757. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170200041005

Objective:  To determine current levels of pediatric faculty stress experienced by pediatric faculty and to examine contributors to and consequences of this stress.

Design:  Random survey, using attitude questionnaire.

Setting:  Twenty-six medical school–based pediatric programs nationwide.

Participants:  Two hundred fifty-two full-time pediatric faculty members.

Main Outcome Measures:  Stress level; importance of specific sources of stress and fulfillment; satisfaction with time allotted to various activities; social support; satisfaction with career choices.

Results:  The return rate was 64%. Forty-six percent of respondents reported "high" or "very high" levels of usual stress; 64% were stressed beyond a "comfortable" level at least "frequently." Women (P<.05), assistant or associate professors (P<.001), and faculty on the tenure track (P<.006) reported feeling "overstressed" more often. Major sources of stress were pressure to do research, family needs (48%), and lack of personal time (40%). About half (51%) agreed that the recent emphasis on reducing resident stress has led to increased pressure on faculty members. Frequency of feeling overstressed was reduced if respondents felt valued by their chairperson (P<.001) and by other faculty (P<.01). Within the last year, 47% had considered moving to another medical school. Another 43% had considered leaving academia. The more frequently the respondent felt overstressed, the more likely he or she was to have considered such changes (P<.001).

Conclusions:  The stress currently experienced by pediatric faculty is substantial and seems to affect long-term commitment to academic medicine. Creative solutions to this issue should be explored.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:751-757)