Psycho-Oncologie

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 77–82 | Cite as

Supporting oncology health professionals: a review

Original Article / Article Original

Abstract

Background

Caring for patients with cancer can be both personally rewarding and stressful. Confrontation with suffering, working with people facing complex life-threatening illness, demanding treatment regimens and frequent death of patients are challenging for many clinicians. Responding to the emotional needs of patients and families is often perceived as among the most stressful. These emotional sources of stress can be compounded by organisational factors and work demands. The resulting emotional impact can have an adverse effect on clinicians’ performance in and satisfaction with their professional roles, their own health and well-being and the quality of patient care.

Objective

The objective of this paper was to review the factors contributing to emotional stress and burnout in health professionals and identify evidence-based strategies to support health professionals in their role, with illustrations of current Australian initiatives on how to apply these in clinical practice.

Results

Research to date indicates the contribution of a combination of individual and contextual factors in the development of these emotional adjustment problems, reflecting an interaction of clinicians’ personal attributes and aspects of their work that influence risk to such stress and “burnout” among cancer clinicians. Evidence-based strategies to address these problems and promote resilience among clinicians include skills development through training and mentorship, particularly in communication skills and psychosocial care. Such training and mentorship can lead to improvements in clinicians’ stress management and confidence in their role, as well as to patient outcomes through improved response to patients’ concerns and suffering.

Conclusion

No single strategy is likely to be successful in alleviating stress related to work in oncology. Interventions must be multi-faceted, flexible and incorporate attention to the complex inter-relationships of clinicians, their personality and experiences, patients and health care systems. Mentorship and clinical supervision can provide personal support, maintenance of skills and promote reflective practices and translation of these skills into everyday practice. Service models that also reduce professional isolation and promote inter-disciplinary team function are discussed, with illustrations of current initiatives in Australia.

Keywords

Health professionals Stress Burnout Inter-disciplinary team 

Soutenir les professionnels de la santé en oncologie : une recension

Résumé

Contexte

Prendre soin d’une personne atteinte de cancer peut à la fois être une expérience personnelle gratifiante et souffrante. La confrontation avec la souffrance, l’accompagnement de personnes affrontant une maladie sévère, l’administration de traitements exigeants et l’exposition aux deuils multiples constituent des défis de taille pour plusieurs cliniciens. Répondre aux besoins émotionnels de la personne atteinte et de ses proches est souvent perçu parmi les expériences les plus stressantes. Ces facteurs émotionnels peuvent se voir amplifier par des facteurs organisationnels et propres à l’environnement de travail. L’impact émotionnel peut se répercuter négativement sur la performance clinique, la satisfaction professionnelle, la santé et le bien-être du soignant ainsi que la qualité des soins dispensés.

Objectif

L’objectif est de recenser les facteurs associés au stress émotionnel et à l’épuisement des professionnels de la santé en oncologie et de faire ressortir les stratégies efficaces permettant de soutenir ce professionnel dans l’exercice de son rôle. L’application dans un contexte clinique australien vient illustrer comment appliquer ces stratégies.

Résultats

La recherche indique qu’une combinaison de facteurs individuels et contextuels pourrait contribuer au développement de problèmes émotionnels chez les soignants en oncologie. Un effet d’interaction entre des caractéristiques personnelles du soignant et des conditions de travail influencerait ainsi le risque de stress et d’épuisement au travail. Parmi les stratégies décrites pour affronter ces problèmes et promouvoir la résilience chez les cliniciens, on retrouve le développement d’habiletés par l’intermédiaire de programmes de formation et de mentorat, particulièrement dans les domaines de la communication et des interventions psychosociales. Ce type de soutien pourrait contribuer à l’amélioration de la gestion du stress et du sentiment de confiance dans le rôle de soignant. L’effet de ces programmes pourrait également se répercuter positivement sur l’allègement de la souffrance de la personne atteinte de cancer.

Conclusion

Il ne semble pas exister de solution unique pour alléger le stress associé au travail en oncologie. Les interventions efficaces seraient multimodales et flexibles. Elles prendraient en compte l’interaction entre les caractéristiques des cliniciens, des personnes atteintes de cancer et du système de la santé. Le mentorat et la supervision clinique favoriseraient un soutien personnel, l’acquisition et le maintien de certaines habiletés utiles, la promotion d’une pratique réflective et le transfert de ces connaissances à la pratique. Les modèles de soutien qui permettent la diminution de l’isolement professionnel et la promotion d’un travail interdisciplinaire en équipe sont également discutés et illustrés avec des initiatives australiennes en cours.

Mots clés

Professionnels de la santé Stress Souffrance Soutien Travail interdisciplinaire 

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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag France 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  3. 3.School of Medicine and Public HealthUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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