Associations of perceived changes in work due to digitalization and the amount of digital work with job strain among physicians : a national representative sample

Lotta Virtanen*, Anu Marja Kaihlanen, Petra Saukkonen, Jarmo Reponen, Tinja Lääveri, Tuulikki Vehko, Peppiina Saastamoinen, Johanna Viitanen, Tarja Heponiemi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Physicians’ work is often stressful. The digitalization of healthcare aims to streamline work, but not all physicians have experienced its realization. We examined associations of perceived changes in work due to digitalization and the amount of digital work with job strain among physicians. The moderating role of the length of work experience was investigated for these associations. Methods: We used representative survey data on Finnish physicians’ (N = 4271) experiences of digitalization from 2021. The independent variables included perceptions on statements about work transformations aligned with digitalization goals, and the extent that information systems and teleconsultations were utilized. Stress related to information systems (SRIS), time pressure, and psychological stress were the dependent variables. We analyzed the associations using multivariable linear and logistic regressions. Results: Respondents had a mean SRIS score of 3.5 and a mean time pressure score of 3.7 on a scale of 1–5. Psychological stress was experienced by 60%. Perceptions associated with higher SRIS comprised disagreements with statements asserting that digitalization accelerates clinical encounters (b =.23 [95% CI:.16–.30]), facilitates access to patient information (b =.15 [.07–.23]), and supports decision-making (b =.11 [.05–.18]). Disagreement with accelerated clinical encounters (b =.12 [.04–.20]), and agreements with patients’ more active role in care (b =.11 [.04–.19]) and interprofessional collaboration (b =.10 [.02–.18]) were opinions associated with greater time pressure. Disagreeing with supported decision-making (OR = 1.26 [1.06–1.48]) and agreeing with patients’ active role (OR = 1.19 [1.02–1.40]) were associated with greater psychological stress. However, perceiving improvements in the pace of clinical encounters and access to patient information appeared to alleviate job strain. Additionally, extensive digital work was consistently linked to higher strain. Those respondents who held teleconsultations frequently and had less than 6 years of work experience reported the greatest levels of time pressure. Conclusions: Physicians seem to be strained by frequent teleconsultations and work that does not meet the goals of digitalization. Improving physicians’ satisfaction with digitalization through training specific to the stage of career and system development can be crucial for their well-being. Schedules for digital tasks should be planned and allocated to prevent strain related to achieving the digitalization goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number252
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Electronic health records
  • Health information systems
  • Occupational stress
  • Physicians
  • Telemedicine

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