Combating stress in the clinical research industry

Monday 5th – Friday 9th November 2018 marks the 20th International Stress Awareness Week but why do we need a stress awareness week? ISMA explains:

  • The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16 was 488,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1,510 per 100,000 workers.
  • The number of new cases was 224,000, an incidence rate of 690 per 100,000 workers. The estimated number and rate have remained broadly flat for more than a decade.
  • The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2015/16 was 11.7 million days. This equated to an average of 23.9 days lost per case. Working days lost per worker showed a generally downward trend up to around 2009/10; since then the rate has been broadly flat.
  • In 2015/16, stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.

Stress matters and the above demonstrates how much of a consideration it should be for employers and employees. Even more so in the clinical research industry, when you consider the amount of remote working, high levels of travel, a high attention to detail required at all times, pressing timelines and often important decisions to be made concerning patient safety.

But we believe small measures can make a big impact.

  1. Talk about stress! Don’t diminish it as an insignificant emotion, if your colleague is feeling stressed let them know they can talk about it in a safe environment, there might be simple measures that can be implemented to alleviate that stress.
  2. Train your line managers. Make sure that your line managers are suitably trained to effectively manage any team members struggling with stress. If they don’t have the right tools and understanding they will be unable to spot the signs and implement positive changes to address the stress.
  3. Encourage positive lifestyle changes to reduce the potential impact of stress. A lunch-break can have a positive impact; a North American survey found those who took a lunch break were more likely to consider themselves “as effective and efficient as I would like to be” than those who didn’t.
  4. Connect with remote workers who might feel isolated – they don’t get to have an impromptu chat at the water cooler, to join in with the “in” joke at the office or to grab a coffee with a colleague to let off steam when they need to. This is a particular challenge for our industry, where many of us are working in virtual teams and see our colleagues infrequently, if at all.
  5. Create a culture that encourages people to move. Some organizations have the budget and space to set up social / exercise areas with gyms and table tennis facilities for example. However, providing these facilities is meaningless if people don’t feel that they can use them without being judged by others, therefore it’s important that employees are encouraged to make use of them – perhaps by managers leading the way. For many that might not be feasible to provide exercise / social space for employees. However, they can still take some simple, low-cost steps to support and encourage physical activity. Such as: Encouraging“walk and talk meetings” or use fitbits, create a fitbit challenge (for more ideas visit our previous blog “What’s the Business Case for Physical Fitness?

As part of International Stress Awareness Week, if you have any top tips on reducing stress for those in the clinical research industry please share them via our social media channels, let’s help each other combat stress!

2018-11-11T17:46:34+00:00 November 8th, 2018|Latest News|