Aim - In addition to assessing stress-coping strategies in patients, equal attention should be paid to health-care professionals. The literature on the stress-coping strategies of emergency physicians – health-care professionals who are frequently subject to stress in a fast-paced clinical setting – is scant. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the stress-coping strategies of emergency-care physicians (ECPs) in Germany.
Methods - We conducted a cross-sectional study by approaching German Associations of Emergency Medicine Physicians and the two largest ECP recruitment agencies in Germany to invite their members to participate. We used the German Stress Coping Strategies Inventory (“Stressverarbeitungsfragebogen” SVF-78) to generate stress-coping scores that would cover both positive and negative strategies. Differences according to sex were also examined. Analyses including chi-square test, t test, and multinomial logistic regression modeling were performed.
Results - A total of 459 German ECPs were included in the study. Compared with men, women tended to have negative coping strategies (beta = 1.77, p <0.001). Specifically, women tended to use social support (beta = 1.55, p = 0.002), avoidance (beta = 2.59, p <0.001), escape (beta = 1.39, p = 0.004), rumination (beta = 1.58, p <0.001), and resignation (beta = 2.09, p <0.001), while being less likely than men to rely on minimization and denial of guilt.
Conclusion - ECPs experience stress in the same manner as patients and other professionals, and they must address and cope with stress appropriately. For future research, studies with a longitudinal approach to monitor the underlying mechanisms are suggested. For clinical practice and policy-making, structural changes in work patterns and psychological support should be considered, which may be of particular benefit for female ECPs.