Workplace stressors experienced by physiotherapists working in regional public hospitals Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To identify and measure the effects of workplace stressors experienced by Victorian regional physiotherapists. DESIGN: Survey questionnaire. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A questionnaire was distributed to three Victorian regional public physiotherapy departments and data were collected from 80 physiotherapists. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The type and frequency of workplace stressors, the nature and frequency of common signs and symptoms of stress and the amount of leave taken as a result of stress were measured. RESULTS: Caseload quantity, complexity of patients, constant excessive workload, covering staff on leave and staff shortages, were reported as key workplace stressors. Physiotherapists aged between 20 and 29 years were significantly more likely to report a higher number of workplace stressors (F = 4.173, n = 80, P = 0.009). Inpatient rehabilitation physiotherapists were significantly more likely to report stress at a higher frequency than physiotherapists working in other areas (chi(2) = 14.359, n = 73, P = 0.002). Eleven per cent of all respondents reported taking leave from work as a result of stress with no significant difference identified between those who took leave and those who did not. There was, however, a trend identified with senior staff (Z = 1.792, n = 80, P = 0.073) and those who work in inpatient rehabilitation (chi(2) = 6.926, n = 80, P = 0.074) being more likely to take leave as a result of stress. Many of these physiotherapists did not make their employers aware of the reasons for the leave (77%, n = 9). CONCLUSIONS: High caseloads, periods of increased activity and staff shortages are some of the factors that contribute to stress in regional physiotherapists. Younger therapists were more likely to identify stressors with greater frequency. Strategies to monitor, prevent and manage stress should be implemented to minimise burnout in regional physiotherapists.

publication date

  • August 2008