Saturday, February 24, 2007

Are Modern Careers Good for Health?


Today it has been reported that people affected by work burn-out are more likely to suffer from diabetes (type 2). There is accumulating psychological evidence that much work stress arises from interacting with people rather than things. In fact, ‘emotional labour’ is more mentally taxing than the old fashion labour jobs that were more physically taxing. It has been shown that the more your job requires you to 'fake emotions', the more emotionally detached you become from those around you. Hiding or faking emotions, can lead to ‘clinical burnout’. Burnout can result in symptoms of emotional exhaustion, fatigue, detached attitude towards others, low sense of effectiveness, helplessness, low mood and now the increased risk of developing diabetes.

The Israeli study looked at 677 mostly male, middle-aged workers and found that those affected by burn-out were nearly twice as likely to develop the condition and after the possible effect of blood pressure levels was eliminated, the risk was more than four-fold higher. This is certainly something the medical profession should consider, not only for their patients, but also for themselves as it is thought that 25%-60% of practising physicians experience burnout.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why are the medical profession the worst at looking after their own health?

Peter Smallbone said...

Is is likely that the burn-out itself isn't the cause of the diabetes, but is simply an indicator of the amount of free time someone has, and therefore their ability to eat proper meals, as opposed to fast food and salty/sugary snacks?

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Thanks Peter for your comments. I suspect you are correct that burn out itself is not the single cause of diabetes, but the link is significant. It may be due to increased stress, genetic, increased cortisol, decreased time for exercise, as you say the unhealthy food intake - there are many possibilities. But there is little doubt that more people do seem to be suffering the effects of clinical burn out. Thanks again. Michelle

Big Brother said...

Interesting blog Michelle. Being a teacher I can testify that a day spent with 130 adolescents can be completely draining. I love my work, but there are days where I feel more tired than I feel after a day of trekking with a 40 lb backpack across the mountains. It really takes it out of you. Maybe that is why there are so many burn-outs in my profession. I don't have any statistics, but it seems to me that I hear of a lot of teachers in my school commission with cancer, heart attacks, diabetes and suicides. Not very heartening is it?

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Hi there Big Brother - you are indeed correct that teaching is another profession with a high rate of burn out. It is a tough job - but I commend you as educating kids is so important. Thanks for the comment. Michelle

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Quasar9 said the following
"Hi Michelle, I haven't got the exact figures, but here is my take on the whole thing.

Work in general, in itself is less stressful. Whether high end careers in finance, medicine or law; middle range careers teaching, civil service, middle-management or admin; or lower end labouring, cleaning, waiting, shop assistants.

Of course catering is a high stress career, and abusy chef has to be able to manage time just about better than any one else.

Running your own business or sel-employment is of course likely to be stressful. Part of the package of 'independence' is having to deal with all the small details and paperwork that come with being in business. In addition to the financial stress of making ends meet. Alas we live in a society which captivates peoples dreams or fantasies. It sells the glossy side of running a successful business, but says nothing of the estra work load one has to undertake, whether the financial rewards are there or not. In addition a business with no or low financial debt will always be more rewarding and less stressful than one where one is always trying to roll a ball up hill, the ball keeps getting heavier (and larger) and many don't make it over the ridge.

Teaching can be a high stress career, but that is more a flaw or weakness of character of the individual rather than work load. Sure teenaging teenagers, and more specifically teaching disruptive students can be very stressful, but it generally means you have the wrong teacher trying to do the job. Not all students are the same and not all teachers are the same. Teaching is more diverse than the subject matter, or imparting knowledge.

But all these other careers which are purported to have high stress or low job satisfaction. A dentist or GP earning £100,000 and more a year, still trying to make more money because of overheads: rent, receptionist & dental nurse?
Have they not heard of multiple or shared surgeries, cuts down your overhead and stress levels straight away. Perhaps then they could dedicate more time to looking after patients who cannot pay, instead of 'praying' for paying customers to come in looking for expensive treatment.
Seems all dentists want 1 patient a week who needs £2-3000 of brifdge work done and the other 39 patients a week are just 'must' see (but have no time to treat) to fill their practice with the £2000 patients 'required' to allegedly fulfil the communities needs.

Lawyers, Solicitors, Finance, Traders - sure they have to meet targets set by the firms to justify their high pay and bonuses.
But seriously, where's the stress. The stress is brought on by complicated extra-curricular or extra-marital activities. Want to Uncomplicate your life, try and stop chasing your own tail.

The major cause of stress is mortgages (or debt) too high, which immediately make the job appear less rewarding than it is.
The bigger cause, is the extra-curricular and extra-marital activities. We want a high paid job, but we are stressed not by the job or the long hours of work, but by the out of hours activities which make demands on one's time one cannot meet.

Again, those from more comfortable families will start their careers or home buying with less financial debt, and more or less complicated lifestyles.

Those trying to live up to the same expectations will try to match the lifestyle, but are burdened with additional debt.

A lot of those on lower income will get caught up in an Eastender lifestyle - where all of life is just stress - from the moment you get out of bed, quarreling with the neighbour or someone down the local over trivia. Is there only one pub in town? Why go to the pub where you know you are likely to feel stressed because of whatever happened yesterday or last week. Try going to another pub.

Is it your job stresses you, or is everything else in life your stress
The job is just where it gets identified. Do I want to be here?
Well you can change jobs or careers and find another job, but do this first before you leave your present job.

Is it your partner or relationship that is stressful. Remember changing partners sometimes means you change the 'person' but not the little things that cause the stress, so it becomes a perpetual state, where only changing the partners face provides a brief or temporary change.

Perhaps you should think twice who you jump into bed with. Are they who you want them to be? Are they simply filling a 'gap' you feel? Anyone but be alone, can lead to wrong partners, stress - and having a partner but feeling alone.

The world is not perfect we know, but we can perpetuate the imperfections and stress, or slow down to a less stressful state - and learn to enjoy the ride"

Thanks for the comment Quasar9. There are of course many things which can contribute to stress and the world is indeed by no means perfect. But work can often be a big stressor in someones life. In the study mentioned, they did not talk about shift work; it has previously been found that shift work can have deleterious effects on health and can lower the immune system plus increase cardiac risk. Thanks again Quasar9 for the post. Michelle

jmb said...

Another reason to develop Diabetes 2, pretty soon we'll all have it, from one cause or another.
Everyone has made some very good points.
I think modern life is just more stressful in the totality, whether it's work or leisure time. There are so many more choices today and we want to do and have it all.
I think one of the most stressful things of all is following the news and so many people are news junkies. The media emphasize only the negative things as newsworthy and we watch all these awful stories and feel powerless. No one seems to have any down time to relax, it's go, go, go from getting up to going to bed and probably not even getting enough sleep.
What is the answer?
One small suggestion is to find a job that you love, then, provided there are not staff shortages or difficult co-workers or insoluble problems, I think most people will be able to handle the incredibly busy times which tend to cause stress.
I hope you are giving us the answer tomorrow, Michelle.
Regards
jmb

simon said...

Wise words Michelle.
I am a stress head. Icannot function without out it. But for me their are 2 types. One that makes me work better and the other is usally little things.

eg running late for an auction and there is traffic everywhere. I LOATH to run late... or when I lose something, or if things are tidy....
Its never the BIG things that stress me just the little things..and they are like a pebble in a shoe!
:o)
(sigh)

I know a great saying " You take yourself where ever you go"
most stress is internal i think.... changing jobs, partners, cars, houses debt.. may not be the answer....

ceeque said...

I`ve been off for many years now with anxiety/stress related illness..and have type 1 diabetes(for 27 years now) which frankly,is causing me alot of trouble nowadays and from which I realise I am suffering from some sort of "burnout" thing..I now have extreme trouble in just being able to "work things out" and often get very simple tasks hopelessly wrong or confused...this whole stress-related business will grow to be a cause of massive concern one day I think until we learn to do some things radically different it`ll always be there?

Maalie said...

I think bullying in the workplace by, for example, over ambitious bosses, places its part in stress as well. Have experienced it.

Ellee said...

I always feel it is so tragic when people die straight after retiring. Why don't people listen to the warning signs and tell themselves that at the end of the day, most people never wish they had worked harder, but had spent more time with their families instead.

I do enjoy your posts very much.

Dr Michelle Tempest said...

Dear jmb, you are correct, it is said that if your job is your hobby then you will never do a days work in your life. Thanks for your comments.

Maalie, Ceeque, Simon and Ellee thanks so much for your comments on this - all very thoughtful comments indeed. Michelle