Work stress and cancer researchers: an exploration of the challenges, experiences and training needs of UK cancer researchers

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Abstract

Work stress is a significant issue for many UK healthcare professionals, in particular those working in the field of oncology. However, there have been very few attempts to explore the challenges, experiences or training needs of researchers working in cancer research. In doing so, we will be better positioned to support and develop these researchers. Eighteen UK oncology researchers from a variety of backgrounds took part in a semi-structured interview. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. The analysis identified two overarching themes: logistical research issues (workload, accessing/recruiting participants, finances) and sensitive research issues (emotional demands, professional boundaries, sensitivity around recruitment). One cross-cutting theme, supportive strategies (support and training, coping mechanisms), was seen to influence both logistical and sensitive research issues. While further research is needed to fully understand the causes and impact of work stress on cancer researchers, three specific issues were highlighted: emotional demands are relevant to quantitative and mixed methods researchers as well as those engaged in qualitative research; the researchers' background (experience; clinical/non-clinical) was influential and an exploration of effective coping strategies is required; and there is a clear need for adequate support systems and training to be available, particularly for early career researchers.

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