January 05, 2022

Ergonomic improvements boost radiologist well-being while decreasing repetitive stress injuries

Members of the specialty are often prone to such muscle and nerve pain, spending hours perched at PACS workstations to complete their duties. Coupled with increasing workloads, this can contribute to provider burnout, experts wrote Dec. 22 in Academic Radiology.

However, ergonomic interventions—such as replacing busted chairs or utilizing comfier mouse pads—may help alleviate these concerns. Making some of these changes and then surveying radiologists afterward, researchers found marked gains.

“This study shows that ergonomic improvements in a radiology department can decrease repetitive stress injuries, improve ergonomics knowledge, and improve the radiologist’s well-being,” Jeanne Horowitz, MD, with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology in Chicago, and co-authors concluded. “Future studies can examine whether ergonomics improvements on a larger scale, such as in various radiology practice settings, show similar results.”

For their study, radiologists at an academic institution were polled about their well-being, workstations, related stress injuries and ergonomics knowledge. Surveys were administered both before and after the interventions over a one-year period. Changes included forming a specialized “ergonomics committee,” educating physicians, and making physical improvements such as updating wrist pads, wireless mice, chairs and organizing cords.

About 40% of respondents (59/147) responded to the initial survey, with 42% believing that repetitive stress injuries contributed to burnout. Another 37% said such discomfort made them contemplate leaving their job, and 39% had an ongoing stress injury. But after the updates, 36% said their pain had subsided, 52% said it improved, and 12% reported no gains. Three-quarters of respondents said ergonomic improvements bolstered their condition, and 83% of believed they improved physician well-being.

“At a time when radiologist burn out is high, making ergonomic improvements, many of which are low cost, may be able to decrease the number of radiologists with repetitive stress injuries. This helps contribute to the radiologist’s wellness and may help prevent burn out,” the authors advised. “This benefits not only individual radiologists, but also their groups and departments as well as patient care,” they added.

Credits to the Author:: “Marty Stempniak | January 05,