How to manage stress and prevent burnout as a clinical trials professional

June 8, 2024
By Ted Marriott

Clinical research can be a rewarding career for many professionals. But, there's no denying the intensity of the profession and industry. You're working on lifesaving drugs and therapeutics funded by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds. You're dealing with human subjects and sensitive data. You can be working to tight budgets and tighter deadlines.

While the mental health of physicians and medical students has received much-needed attention, clinical researchers have often been overlooked. Yet, they face just as much stress. Clinical trials professionals (CTPs) and their institutions need to do more, but where do we begin?

Rightly so, more attention has been paid to how mental health affects physicians and medical students. Less attention has been paid to mental health amongst clinical researchers, though. That's what we're here to explore today. It's a change we want to make here at CGX! 


  1. What factors contribute to stress and mental health issues in clinical research?
  2. Top tips for CTPs and managing stress

1. What factors contribute to stress and mental health issues in clinical research?

As in any profession, CTPs have to grapple with the usual workplace stressors. A national study from the UK revealed that younger researchers whose research was part of a graduate assistant role experienced higher levels of stress. But as we mentioned, specific research into clinical researchers' stress is lacking. 

There are some common issues across the healthcare industry that we already know contribute to stress and burnout.

  • Working with patients and vulnerable people can be a distressing experience for anyone.
  • Miscommunication can affect any professional at any level of their career. 
  • Managing a large workload 
  • Going underappreciated for your efforts.
  • CTPs can be responsible for juggling many projects. 
  • Large volumes of data entry.
  • Having to constantly monitor and update protocol.

Put all of this together, and it's easy to see why CTPs come into contact with stress and burnout.

2. The impact of clinical research in advancing healthcare

So, what can you do as an individual? What can companies do to enhance their work cultures? We’ve got some ideas to get you started. Mastering them all at once is no mean feat. Think about how you can cultivate just one of these today.

Personal strategies

  1. Time management:
    • Prioritise tasks and set realistic deadlines.
    • Use tools like calendars and to-do lists to stay organised.
    • Break larger projects into smaller, manageable tasks.
  1. Self-care:
    • Maintain a healthy work-life balance.
    • Ensure regular exercise, a balanced diet and sufficient sleep.
    • Take breaks throughout the day to relax and recharge.
  1. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques:
    • Practice mindfulness, meditation or deep-breathing exercises.
    • Engage in hobbies and activities that you enjoy and that help you unwind.
  1. Seek support:
    • Talk to colleagues, friends or family about your stressors.
    • Join professional networks or support groups for clinical researchers.
    • Consider professional counseling or therapy, if needed.
  1. Set boundaries:
    • Learn to say no when your plate is full.
    • Establish clear boundaries between work and personal time.

Organisational support

  1. Work environment:
    • Ensure a comfortable and ergonomic workspace.
    • Encourage a culture of open communication and support.
  1. Workload management:
    • Advocate for reasonable workloads and fair distribution of tasks.
    • Seek clarity on job roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion and overlap.
  1. Professional development:
    • Engage in continuous learning and skill development.
    • Attend workshops, seminars and training programs to stay updated and competent.
  1. Stress-reduction programs:
    • Participate in or advocate for workplace wellness programs.
    • Utilise available resources like employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  1. Team support:
    • Foster a collaborative team environment.
    • Share challenges and solutions with colleagues to find collective ways to manage stress.

This is a demanding but important industry. If we can tackle stress and mental health in our workforce, we can build better clinical trials. Better clinicals trials means better results and more lifesaving interventions. Want to find out how we could help you? Don't hesitate to contact us today. 

Also read:

We have a collective responsibility for tackling stress and mental health issues. At CGX, we're passionate about systemic changes to the world of clinical research. Check out our blog on tackling health disparities to find out more. This is important not only for the wellbeing of CTPs, but also for the efficacy of each trial. So, what can we do on an individual and systemic level?

1 Doctors Own Mental Health Issues. Available at:,among%20the%20most%20common%20complaints
Moral Stress and Job Burnout Among Frontline Staff Conducting Clinical Research on Affective and Anxiety Disorders.
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