A top US professor is probing the causes of stress suffered by IT workers - the first study of its kind.

The study, which initially targeted Canadian IT workers, is now expanding to all of North America.

Professor Kaluzniacky, based at the University of Winnipeg, said: "There is reason to believe that the (information systems) professional today is significantly more at risk of serious burnout than his counterpart of 20 to 25 years ago." Factors such as high performance requirements on the job, the speed of change and challenges associated with trying to keep up with the IT field may all be factors, he said.

While there have been many general studies of stress, few have focused on stress in the IT field, Kaluzniacky said.

Kaluzniacky is using the Web site he's helped establish, located at www.ncf.ca/itwellness to assist in gathering data. It includes a five-minute survey and a more detailed questionnaire that looks at stress levels, potential for burnout, deadlines, rapid change, absenteeism due to stress, management awareness of the problem and other factors.

Kaluzniacky said he's aware that Web survey takers may self-select and skew the results, but he thinks that may be a double-edged sword: "Some people who are stressed may be more likely to take the survey," he said. "On the other hand, some people may feel too stressed to take the time to do the survey. So it evens out."

Survey results will be periodically posted on the Web site, Kaluzniacky said.