Anesthesiologists and acute perioperative stress: A cohort study

Zeev N. Kain, Kar Mei Chan, Jonathan D. Katz, Arti Nigam, Lee Fleisher, Jackqulin Dolev, Lynda E. Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have indicated that many anesthesiologists exhibit symptoms of chronic stress. There is a paucity of data, however, regarding the existence of acute stress signs among anesthesiologists. Anesthesiologists from three practice settings (n = 38) were studied while they were anesthetizing 203 patients. Heart rate (HR) was recorded continuously and arterial blood pressure (BP) was measured hourly and immediately after each induction. Anxiety levels and salivary cortisol levels were also assessed after each induction. Comparison BP and HR data were obtained from the anesthesiologists during a nonclinical day. We found that anesthesiologists' HR increased during the anesthetic process compared with morning baseline HR (P = 0.008). This HR increase, however, was not clinically significant; the average HR during the anesthetic process ranged from 80 ± 12 to 84 ± 11 bpm. Similarly, although both systolic and diastolic BP after inductions were increased compared with baseline BP (P = 0.001), this increase was not clinically significant. In 9% of the inductions, however, systolic BP exceeded 140 mm Hg, and in 17% of all inductions, diastolic BP exceeded 90 mm Hg. Finally, the average BP of anesthesiologists during a clinical day was not different from the average BP during a nonclinical day (P = 0.9). Self- reported anxiety did not increase significantly after inductions (P = 0.15). An analysis of Holter tapes revealed no rhythm abnormalities and no signs of myocardial ischemia. We conclude that the practice of anesthesiology is associated with minor manifestations of acute physiologic stress during the perioperative process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-183
Number of pages7
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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