, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 75-88

Stress perceptions in community clinic: a pilot survey of patients and physicians

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This pilot survey of 103 patients and 17 physicians in an urban family medicine clinic gathered information pertinent to the design of a feasible stress intervention for patients bothered by stress, but who did not have a psychiatric diagnosis. Among patients, 45% reported being excessively bothered by stress in the preceding month, with the chief stressors being job (70 reporting), financial worries (58%) and family concerns (50%). Patients reported a variety of problems perceived to be related to stress, such as headaches, insomnia, eating control, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Although about 80% reported using positive coping methods (e.g., talking, exercising, and relaxing), 42% reported using alcohol, and 10% used non-prescribed drugs to cope with stress. Only 37% of patients had sought help for stress from their physician. The wide variety of responses from the physicians reflected a lack of standardized approaches, inadequate training, and a reluctance to engage patients about their stress problems. About 42% of the physicians reported routinely asking patients about stress, and 77% felt that dealing with patient stress was a significant burden on their practice of medicine. Overall, the findings indicate that opportunities are being missed for helping patients to deal with stress constructively, and that a standardized stress self-management program might be one solution.

G. Ken Goodrick, PhD, is Associate Professor, Suzanne Kneuper, MA, is Research Assistant, and Jeffrey R. Steinbauer, MD, is Associate Professor, all in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
This work was supported in part by a Grant (HL69397) from NHLBI. Editorial assistance was provided by Pamela Tice. Presented in poster form at the 30th Annual Meeting of the North American Primary Care Research Group, New Orleans, November 17, 2002.
Requests for reprints should be addressed to G. Ken Goodrick, Ph.D, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 3701 Kirby Drive, Suite 600 Houston, TX 77098; e-mail: goodrick@bcm.tmc.edu.