Computer illiteracy leads to occupational stress, particularly among older rads

November 28, 2007

While stress and personality have a well-established relationship with one another, they were also found to have a strong relationship to computer literacy within the radiologist community. Radiologists with lower levels of occupational stress and certain personality types -- high levels of openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness -- were found to be associated with higher levels of computer literacy.

While stress and personality have a well-established relationship with one another, they were also found to have a strong relationship to computer literacy within the radiologist community. Radiologists with lower levels of occupational stress and certain personality types - high levels of openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness - were found to be associated with higher levels of computer literacy.

Radiology has traditionally been considered a low-burnout specialty, but that is changing as increasing numbers of stressors are introduced, including:

o

  • Supply/demand workforce imbalance

o

  • Size and complexity of data sets

o

  • Heightened service expectations

o

  • Decreased economic reimbursements

o

  • Increased medicolegal liability

o

  • Burgeoning technology

"Radiology is the only medical subspecialty that is 100% dependent on technology. And there is a tendency now for radiologists to become polarized into technophiles and technophobes," said lead author Dr. Bruce Reiner, director of radiology research at the VA Maryland Health Care System in Baltimore.

Reiner and colleagues performed a three-part online survey with 320 radiologist respondents (ages 30 to 77). Items examined included individual/practice demographics, personality profile, perceived stress level, and self-based computer literacy score.

The single demographic factor found to correlate most highly with computer literacy was radiologist age (p

When correlating computer literacy with occupational stress, researchers observed a negative correlation (p = 0.001), with the mean perceived stress scale scores for computer illiterate, computer competent, and computer sophisticated users 31.7, 29.2, and 20.8, respectively.

They found computer knowledge correlated with radiologist personality for three of the main personality factors including openness (p

"Computer literacy has become an increasingly important prerequisite for successful radiology practice with the widespread adoption of PACS. A more thorough understanding of stress and personality must be emphasized and incorporated into radiologist education and training," Reiner said.