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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

South Carolina: Study Finds Connection Between Mental Workload and Patient Care Among Clinical Oncologists

Recent research led by Dr. Matthew Hudson, the director of Cancer Care Delivery Research at Prisma Health-Upstate and an adjunct associate professor in the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health’s Department of Health Services Policy and Management (HSPM), investigates clinical work intensity (i.e., mental workload) that medical oncologists and oncologic nurse practitioners experience while providing care to cancer patients.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, found that while provider characteristics (e.g., age, sex, years of experience) were unrelated to work intensity, the type of patient visit (e.g., chemotherapy, terminal prognosis discussions) was related to work intensity – both overall and among numerous work intensity attributes (e.g., time demand, effort).

“Clinical work intensity, which is a fundamental attribute of practice, is the level of requisite technical skill, physical and mental effort, and clinical judgement necessary to provide high-quality patient care, plus the level of associated stress,” Dr. Hudson says. “In addition to potentially influencing the mental health and well-being of the care provider, we need to consider whether and how work intensity-either too high or too low- negatively impact care quality for patients.”

Workforce shortages, practice reorganization, increased use of electronic medical records, and a growing emphasis on patient-centered care (demanding a thorough patient-provider discussion of treatment options) may collectively exacerbate work intensity among clinicians.

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