Resident fatigue, stress trigger motor vehicle incidents, Mayo Clinic poll finds

December 17, 2012

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- It appears that long, arduous hours in the hospital are causing more than stress and fatigue among doctors-in-training -- they're crashing, or nearly crashing, their cars after work, according to new Mayo Clinic research. Nearly half of the roughly 300 Mayo Clinic residents polled during the course of their residencies reported nearly getting into a motor vehicle crash during their training, and about 11 percent were actually involved in a traffic accident.

The study, recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that residents attributed the traffic incidents to fatigue and to distress -- including feelings of burnout or depression.

"Just like any other field, residents need their recovery time. In order to make good decisions, physicians need to be physically and emotionally well," says lead author Colin West, M.D., Ph.D., an internal medicine physician at Mayo Clinic. "Residents need to be rested. We don't want them to have undue amounts of stress."

It is well documented that medical residents often work long and grueling hours during their three-year residencies. The intense work schedule has benefits, Dr. West says. For example, residencies prepare trainees to become independent physicians. However, it's important that educators continually update their approach to retain the value of the training while minimizing stress and fatigue, he says. In addition to the 11 percent who had traffic crashes, 43 percent reported narrowly avoiding them.

"The mere fact that motor vehicle incidents are common among residents brings the issues of resident fatigue, sleepiness and distress to a new level of priority," Dr. West says. "New interventions designed to address both resident fatigue and distress may be needed to promote patient and resident safety."

Residents also were asked about the frequency of self-reported blood and body fluid exposures. Of the about 300 residents in the study, 23 (about 8 percent) reported having at least one blood and body fluid exposure due to fatigue or stress during the study period.

To gather the data, participants completed surveys quarterly from July 1, 2007, through July 31, 2011, during their training period. Associations of validated measures of quality of life, burnout, symptoms of depression, fatigue and sleepiness with a subsequently reported blood and body fluid exposure or motor vehicle incident were determined from these survey results.
-end-
The study was funded by the Mayo Clinic Department of Medicine Program on Physician Wellbeing.

MULTIMEDIA ALERT: For audio and video of Dr. West talking about resident fatigue and stress, visit Mayo Clinic News Network.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.com and www.mayoclinic.org/news.Journalists can become a member of the Mayo Clinic News Network for the latest health, science and research news and access to video, audio, text and graphic elements that can be downloaded or embedded.

Mayo Clinic

Related Stress Articles from Brightsurf:

Stress-free gel
Researchers at The University of Tokyo studied a new mechanism of gelation using colloidal particles.

Early life stress is associated with youth-onset depression for some types of stress but not others
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress (ELS) and youth-onset depression, a study in JAACAP, published by Elsevier, reports that individuals exposed to ELS were more likely to develop a major depressive disorder (MDD) in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to ELS.

Red light for stress
Researchers from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have created a biphasic luminescent material that changes color when exposed to mechanical stress.

How do our cells respond to stress?
Molecular biologists reverse-engineer a complex cellular structure that is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS

How stress remodels the brain
Stress restructures the brain by halting the production of crucial ion channel proteins, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

How plants handle stress
Plants get stressed too. Drought or too much salt disrupt their physiology.

Stress in the powerhouse of the cell
University of Freiburg researchers discover a new principle -- how cells protect themselves from mitochondrial defects.

Measuring stress around cells
Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to ''sculpt'' biological structures.

Cellular stress at the movies
For the first time, biological imaging experts have used a custom fluorescence microscope and a novel antibody tagging tool to watch living cells undergoing stress.

Read More: Stress News and Stress Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.