Burnout reaching ‘crisis levels’ in some parts of the radiology staff, study finds

For some members of the radiology team, ongoing stress and burnout may be reaching “crisis levels.”

That’s according to a new survey of imaging directors and radiology technologists in four countries, commissioned by Royal Phillips. Polling more than 250 professionals, they found that technologists in every geography reported significant levels of workplace fatigue, with more than one-third reporting moderate to high levels, according to “Radiology Staff in Focus,” released on Monday, Nov. 5.

“The subject of burnout is a major topic of discussion in radiology, but there has not been sufficient focus on understanding the specific challenges faced by radiology technologists and imaging directors,” Kees Wesdorp, general manager of diagnostic imaging for Philips, said in a prepared statement. “These critical stakeholders have a direct responsibility for image acquisition and quality, operations, and patient care.”

Phillips reached its results through a double-blind survey of 254 professionals in the U.S., France, the United Kingdom and Germany, conducted in May and June. They noted that German technologists, in particular, reported a 97% rate of moderate to high burnout, while those in the other three countries ranged from 30% to 36%. Stress was also found to be “alarmingly high,” Phillips noted, with 40% to 97% of respondents reporting moderate to severe levels.

Workload was cited as the largest source of such anxiety. Helplessness was also a key driver, with 43% saying they felt either “somewhat” or “not at all” empowered to effect change in their departments. In the U.S. in particular, respondents said the top drivers of burnout are workload (40%), lack of appreciation (35%), and communication/information flow (29%).

When asked to cite the biggest barriers to getting images right the first time, top responses included lack of patient prep (37%), technological impediments (36%) and workflow/colleague support (27%).

For radiology business leaders, the key next steps are to identify better ways to prepare patients before testing, arm technologists with the info they need, and be sure to recognize employees for their hard work.

“These are all incremental improvement tactics that can make a huge difference for staff,” the report concluded.