Objectives: Our aims were to investigate the sources of work strain and stress, and the way in which they are experienced by Romanian health professionals in a work context shaped by the ongoing 20 years long reform of the national health care system.
Design: An exploratory, qualitative design was used to investigate medical professionals' perceptions of stress and work strain.
Methods: Twenty eight interviews and two focus groups were conducted with 38 physicians, residents and nurses, between the age of 26 and 53. A semi-structured interview guide was used for data gathering and the major themes were identified using thematic analysis of the transcripts.
Results: Three themes emerged in the analysis: governance and health system management, scarcity of resources, and health system reputation. Health professionals described the image of a suffering health system, exhausted by an inconsistent management plan, underfunded and understaffed; a system that is a constant source of discontent, bitterness and doubts for them and their patients.
Conclusions: Romanian health professionals' experiences reveal a health care system which after 20 years of reform managed to shape a learned helplessness culture within the medical community and drive a large proportion of its workforce across the borders.
© 2012 The British Psychological Society.