Newsletter Spring 2011


Newsletter Spring 2011

Professional Wellbeing Working Party report
Report of the Professional Wellbeing Working Party of WFSA (PWWP): It is time to reflect on, and do something about, the anesthesiologist’s occupational health


Members of the PWWP


Francis Bonet

Steve Howard

Pratyush Gupta

Olli Meretoja

Roger Moore (USA)

Max-André Doppia

Gastão F. Duval Neto (Brasil) Chair



Occupational wellbeing is a
reflection of job satisfaction, leading to enrichment in our entire
life. Finding a healthy way to integrate work into our life in
such a way that provides balance and personal satisfaction will lead
to enhanced overall wellbeing. “The Professional Wellbeing Work Party” at WFSA
aims to promote the wellbeing of anesthesiologists around the world, mainly by
encouraging research, recommendations and awareness in this subject.


The nature and intensity of the work
performed by anesthesiologists has been transformed dramatically over the past
few decades. The advent of new technologies has expanded the surgical horizon,
but has also allowed the intervention for much more challenging medical
conditions. In association with more difficult case loads are the pressures of
increased economic competitiveness, and the need to do more with a downsized
workforce. All this transformation has impacted the occupational wellbeing of
the anesthesiologist. Hence, it becomes important that anesthesiologists be
informed about the aspects of their practices that produce the most stress and
to provide direction as to how better working conditions can be established.


The Burnout Syndrome is a well
defined medical condition, characterized by emotional exhaustion,
depersonalization and diminished personal accomplishment. Emotional exhaustion
represents the emotional depletion of an individual, and it is considered the
syndrome’s initial trait resulting mainly from excessive job demands and
conflicts in interpersonal relationships, as well as from the carrying out of
professional duties. Depersonalization is characterized by health care
provider’s emotional insensibility. The appearance of this symptom is essential
to the diagnosis of the Burnout Syndrome, since the other features can be found
in depressive cases in general. Ultimately, the feeling of diminished personal
accomplishment (or incompetence) reveals a negative self-evaluation associated
with a lack of satisfaction and unhappiness at work.


The emerging risks of acute and
chronic fatigue and high levels of occupational stress, need to be highlighted
during staff anesthesiologists’ clinical practice and also during residency
training programs. Prof. Olli Meretoja opines that “There is a growing amount of
evidence that doctors’ performances are poorer if they work for over-prolonged
duties or at night. These working patterns decrease the standard of care and
increase health care expenses. Effective ways to reduce the overall
consequences of fatigue and night work include minimizing the amount of work
carried out at nighttime and setting up rules for maximal hours for each work


Another issue of concern is chemical
dependency among physicians, especially anesthesiologists who have more
accessibility to drugs of abuse. Prof. Francis Bonnet and his colleagues have
published a national survey concerning the incidence of addiction among French
anesthesiologists. The substances used most frequently were alcohol (in 59%) and tranquillizers -hypnotics (in
41%). Increasing age increased the incidence of
abuse. Addicted subjects reported issues in their work environment that may
have contributed to the development of their pathology. Similar studies in
Brazil have also shown opioids, benzodiazepines and alcohol to be the most
common addictions among physicians, including anesthesiologists. There appears
to be a relationship between psychogenic pathologies developed during the
practice of anesthesiology (fatigue, depression, burnout, etc) and the chemical
dependency syndrome.


The Brazilian Society of
Anesthesiology (BSA) has shown a growing interest in anesthesiologists’
occupational health since 2000. The BSA has tried to understand, to alert to,
and to influence the kind of situations that have significant importance in an
anesthesiologist’s life. The BSA’s Occupational Health Committee has undertaken
epidemiological research that aims to evaluate the level of occupational stress
and the degree of adaptability to the residents’ work conditions and their preceptors
in the BSA and Education Governing Center’s Teaching and Clinical Training


In spring 2010, the Professional
Wellbeing Work Party of the WFSA carried out research involving 120 member
societies from across the world. It involved use of a questionnaire aimed at
identifying the incidence of occupational health problems amongst members of
the particular society and approaches used by these Societies to address
anesthesiologists’ occupational health.


The results show that more than 90 %
of the National Societies considered Burnout Syndrome as a causative problem
but only 14 % had developed any kind of coping strategy for this syndrome. The
PWWP has organized a special symposium on this topic during the next World
Congress of Anesthesiologists in Buenos Aires in 2012. Important subjects
related to health and well-being of anesthesiologists will be covered by
representatives of PWWP at this congress.


Further information on PWWP activities and recommended literature
is available on WFSA website:


2) Professional Wellbeing Recommended Reading



        Gastão F. Duval Neto

 Chair of the Professional Wellbeing Working Party of WFSA    

of the Executive Committee of WFSA

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