Encrypted login | home

Program Information

Social Support Among Medical Physicists: Investigating Barriers to and Desires for Support

J Johnson

(1) The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, (2) University of Washington, Seattle, WA, (3) Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, (4) University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, california, (5) Yale Univ, New Haven, CT


SU-I-GPD-P-18 (Sunday, July 30, 2017) 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM Room: Exhibit Hall

Purpose: Previous studies suggest that within radiation oncology, medical physicists (MP) experience high stress. Little is known about how MPs use social support (SS) in times of stress.

Methods: In collaboration with the Workgroup on Prevention of Medical Error, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine administered an HIC approved email survey to 8566 members. Respondents were considered likely to seek SS if they answered (probably/definitely would) and unlikely to seek support if they answered (probably/definitely would not). Logistic regression was applied to determine associations between demographic factors and willingness to seek support as well as perception of barriers.

Results: 1297 members (15.1%) accessed and gave consent for the survey. 1001 (11.7%) respondents answered the last question. Respondents were predominantly male (69.1%), MP in radiation oncology (81.8%), private practice (51.6%), with practice duration >10 years (60.2%). MPs were likely to seek SS for personal physical illness (78.63%), involvement in a medical error (73.94%) or adverse patient outcome (75.17%). MPs sought SS in the setting of personal fatigue (33.2%) or burnout (44.3%). Barriers to seeking SS were lack of time (80.3%), and uncertainty about whom to access (70.7%). MPs responded that they would be most likely to seek support from an equally experienced physicist colleague (81.0%). Most MPs identified (67.0%) as having experienced stressors, with serious family illness (35.2%), or burnout (32.8%) being most common.Factors associated with MPs unwillingness to seek SS for medical error included >20 years in practice (vs. still in training -OR 0.30, p=0.015), and male gender (OR 0.60, p=0.003). Male gender was associated with the lowest willingness to seek support (OR 2.10, p=0.0001), but also with fewer perceived barriers (OR 1.60, p=0.0075).

Conclusion: Willingness to seek SS is demonstrated, and MPs want colleagues to provide support. Given these results, peer support could be considered among MPs.

Contact Email: