Objectives: Stress associated with workload is induced by the imbalance between work demands and existing resources. This situation leads to fatigue, tension, anxiety, emotional dissonance and ultimately to a"non-empathic" approach to patient's needs. The staff of a Hematology division is specifically exposed to continuous emotional and physical stress due to the permanent necessity of coping with severe and life-threatening illnesses. Shiatsu, an ancient Chinese lifestyle, is considered to be a preventive approach to ensure good health. It treats both physical and emotional problems and promotes harmonial functioning of internal organs. Methods: We conducted a study evaluating the response to Shiatsu treatment in 25 staff members of the Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation Department and in the group of out-of-hospital medical workers. The study included a stress-estimation questionnaire used pre- and post-treatment. Each participant had a 1-hour session of Shiatsu therapy once a week for 8 weeks. Results: Using the holistic stress scale grading stress level between 1-36 (36 being the highest score), the pre-treatment stress level was found to be 26/36 among hospital workers compared to 21/36 among the out-of-hospital medical staff (p = 0.016). The ability of self-relaxation appeared to be low in 56% and median in 40% of all participants. Following Shiatsu therapy, stress substantially decreased in 60% of individuals and moderately--in 40% of all participants. In addition, improvement in general emotional and physical wellbeing was reported to be considerable in 90% and moderate in 10% of the individuals. Post-treatment stress level measured as mean ratio between each pre- and post-treatment values decreased from 3.29 to 2.87 (p In conclusion: The use of ancient relaxation methods, such as Shiatsu, can significantly improve the sense of wellbeing and the ability to cope with stress in medical staff members working under constant pressure. We have since then offered this treatment to all the workers of the Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation Department.
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