Under pressure

Physical strains, time pressure and long working hours are adding to optometrist stress levels, AOP member research shows

Almost 14% of optometrists rate their stress as nine or 10 out of 10. 

This is one insight from research published online by the AOP this week (26–30 June).

Key findings relating to stress, issues raised by employers and career aspirations from a survey of 1743 members are now available on the Association’s website.

The research was commissioned by the AOP in 2016 and conducted by researchers from Aston University. 

Respondents were asked to rate their work-related stress levels on a scale of one to 10 as part of the survey. 

Of those surveyed, 13.7% ranked their stress levels as either nine or 10 out of 10.

A further 41.9% of those surveyed rated their stress levels as seven or eight, while 44.4% of optometrists reported their stress as six or lower. 

Key factors found to influence stress levels included long hours affecting work-life balance, time pressures during the working day, physical strains on the job and whether colleagues were supportive. 

For employers, the average stress rating was lower than for employees, at six out of 10. Factors that affected stress levels included recruiting new staff members and managing poor performance.

Looking ahead to the future, 75% of respondents thought that the role of optometrists would change significantly in the next five years.

Nearly half of those surveyed planned on staying in the profession until they retired. 

As a result of the survey findings, the AOP has launched a free and confidential Peer Support Line and released a series of online resources to help members recognise and manage the symptoms of stress. 

AOP chief executive, Henrietta Alderman told OT: “The health and wellbeing of our members is a core focus for the AOP in 2017, running through a variety of projects in different forms. One of the central and most notable themes identified as part of this research, is the pressure felt by many practitioners, across all levels, in practice. We are responding dynamically to address these concerns by developing new services, which can be accessed quickly and easily, as well as looking to work with employers on the broader areas.”