Stressed out at the reading station? Here's a solution worth tapping into

March 1, 2006

Back in the dark ages, when publications were first going digital, I observed that moving from typewriters and paper to video display terminals didn't really make the job any easier, as I had once imagined it would; it just allowed me to do more work. Today, I find that overflowing digital data streams actually add to my job stress.

Back in the dark ages, when publications were first going digital, I observed that moving from typewriters and paper to video display terminals didn't really make the job any easier, as I had once imagined it would; it just allowed me to do more work. Today, I find that overflowing digital data streams actually add to my job stress.

As the digital environment spreads through radiology, I suspect many radiologists are feeling the same way. Certainly, the shift to digital imaging allows you to read more images, but it also piles on patient history, plenty of priors, and a series of classic cases that may shed light on yours. All of this, as you know, adds up and may make an already stressful job even more so.

Although stress in the workplace in general has received a lot of attention, no one has addressed the impact digital imaging has had on stress in the digital radiology workplace. Until now.

In a unique project described in this issue of Diagnostic Imaging, digital luminaries Dr. Bruce Reiner and Dr. Eliot Siegel introduce a survey designed to evaluate how radiologists deal with stress in the workplace. All responses are strictly anonymous. It is hoped that data gathered in the survey will lead to a better understanding of what factors contribute to stress for radiologists and, correspondingly, how the digital environment can be adjusted to reduce those stress levels.

It's a topic that's long overdue for examination. Please take a look at the introduction to the project ("Stress reflects march of progress dichotomy," page 23) and then take a few minutes from your stressful day to complete the survey. You may find it fun, informative, and maybe a little therapeutic. In the long run, your participation may yield data that will make your work just a little bit less stressful. The survey is online at

www.zoomerang.com.

John C. Hayes is editor of Diagnostic Imaging.