Among the important stress factors for physicians nowadays are poorly functioning, time consuming and inadequate information systems. The present study examined the predictors of physicians’ stress related to information systems (SRIS) among Finnish physicians. The examined predictors were cognitive workload, staffing problems, time pressure, problems in teamwork and job satisfaction, adjusted for baseline levels of SRIS, age, gender and employment sector.
The study has a follow-up design with two survey data collection waves, one in 2006 and one in 2015, based on a random sample of Finnish physicians was used. The present study used a sample that included 1109 physicians (61.9% women; mean age in 2015 was 54.5; range 34–72) who provided data on the SRIS in both waves. The effects of a) predictor variable levels in 2006 on SRIS in 2015 and b) the change in the predictor variables from 2006 to 2015 on SRIS in 2015 were analysed with linear regression analyses.
Regression analyses showed that the higher level of cognitive workload in 2006 significantly predicted higher level of SRIS in 2015 (β = 0.08). The reciprocity of this association was tested with cross-lagged structural equation model analyses which showed that the direction of the association was from cognitive workload to SRIS, not from SRIS to cognitive workload. Moreover, increases in time pressure (β = 0.16) and problems in teamwork (β = 0.10) were associated with higher levels of SRIS in 2015, whereas job satisfaction increase was associated with lower SRIS (β = − 0.06).
According to our results, physicians’ cognitive workload may have long-lasting negative ramifications in regard to how stressful physicians experience their health information systems to be. Thus, organisations should pay attention to physicians workload if they wish physicians to master all the systems they need to use. It is also important to provide physicians with enough time and collegial support in their system-related problems, and in learning new systems and system updates.