OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to assess the work demands as potential stressors of health service consultants, and to describe the development of tools for measuring stress experiences of consultants. METHODS: A stratified random sample of 500 NHS consultants in Scotland was targeted by a postal questionnaire and 375 (75%) returned a valid response. They completed questionnaires, including information on demographic factors, work demands, occupational stressors, and burnout. RESULTS: Principal components analysis showed that professional work demands of consultants fell into three categories: clinical, academic, and administrative. Their perceived stressors separated into four main factors: clinical responsibility, demands on time, organisational constraints, and personal confidence. These were assessed by 25 questions in the specialist doctors' stress inventory. Specific questions about perceived stressors which resulted in a high positive response included questions about demands on time, and organisational change in the NHS. CONCLUSION: These self reported data characterise and measure the consultants' work demands and their role as potential stressors. These measurements could form the basis for strategies to reduce occupational stress in these workers.
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