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Occupational Stress Among Australian Podiatric Physicians in General and Geriatric Practice

Paul Tinley School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia. (E-mail: ptinley@csu.edu.au)

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Background

High levels of occupational stress have been reported in podiatric physicians practicing in Australia. One possible stressor is the predominance of the treatment of aged patients with chronic disease in podiatric medical practice.

Methods

Forty podiatric physicians attending a regional podiatric medical conference were invited to participate in the research using a convenience sampling method. Podiatric physicians were asked to complete a survey examining occupational stress in general and specifically in relation to practice with older adults (defined as those older than 65 years).

Results

The survey of sources of occupational stress among podiatrists identified patient demands and expectations as the most significant stressor in general and geriatric practice for the podiatric physician. The perceived limited clinical gains and chronic nature of the conditions in older patients was also ranked highly as a stressor.

Conclusions

Working with the elderly is a substantial part of podiatric medical practice and, as such, needs to be seen with a more positive attitude by many practitioners. The development of geriatric practice as a speciality within the profession may help raise the value of working with the elderly. This has implications for preparing podiatric physicians for practice with the geriatric population along with the need for strategies to avoid or minimize these work stressors.