Medical Pros Mental Health in Decline as Patient Backlog to Remain Through 2027; Sony Survey Finds

Medical Pros Mental Health in Decline as Patient Backlog to Remain Through 2027; Sony Survey Finds

Medical professionals across Europe are experiencing mental health issues on par with levels seen in 2021, when the professionals were in the depths of the pandemic aftermath, new research from Sony Healthcare Europe has found. The survey of 600 oncologists and surgeons from the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Nordics found 95% had experienced at least one mental health issue over 2023, increasing by 8% from 2022 and only 3% lower than 2021’s results.

Depression was the most common mental health issue experienced (37%) and saw the most significant increase (9%) in instances since last year. All issues polled (insomnia, burnout, anxiety and distress) saw an increase, with the latter two issues affecting 37% and 34% respectively. Commissioned for the third successive year by Sony, the study seeks to gauge the sentiment among leading medical professionals towards their work and the role of new medical technologies in addressing critical challenges within health systems.

An overwhelming majority (90%) of these medical professionals have cited current staff shortages as having a negative impact on clearing the patient backlog, which they believe will take another three years to clear (3.19 average). This expectation has been increasing year on year (2.19 in 2021 and 3.01 in 2022), resulting in an exponential timeline, indicating continued and/or new challenges to address.

These issues seem to be impacting their attitudes toward their job in 2024. Respondents are feeling more concerned, sad, hopeless, and angry since last year when reflecting on their role, with frustration seeing the biggest increase from one in five (20%) in 2022 to over a quarter (26%) in 2023.

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The survey points to a reflection of these feelings on their relationship with their resources, as respondents have shown more pessimism when it comes to the role technology can play in supporting clearing the backlogs, with under two-thirds (62%) believing it to have a vital role, a 21% decrease since last year.

The survey highlights the work to be done by technology partners in healthcare to re-instill hope that such resources can be utilized in a way that doesn’t further add challenges to stretched schedules but can ease day-to-day burdens during strained and pressured periods with real and experienced impact.

Ludger Philippsen, Head of Healthcare Solutions Europe, Sony, said: “We know that no amount of technology can replace the hard-working and skilled professionals in the medical field, however with these levels of both logistical and emotional burdens three years after the beginning of the pandemic, we cannot deny there is a strong sense of responsibility to provide support through our partnerships. Trust in technology has fallen once again this year and so our role as a responsible supplier isn’t to convince technology is the complete answer, but to actively listen and support staff to provide solutions that will genuinely ease their current day-to-day challenges.”

Views aren’t entirely negative though, with almost half (45%) of respondents feeling some positive emotion toward their role in 2024, with 29% feeling positive and 23% feeling excited for the coming months.