Public health in focus with Dean Melissa Perry: health care worker burnout

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Dean Perry speaks with Dr. Debora Goldberg about her research on health care worker burnout and holistic interventions to improve the mental health, safety, and well-being of this population. Watch the video or read the synopsis.



What are the factors that contribute to burnout among health care workers?

Well, there are differences based on profession, job responsibilities and workplace settings. But what we see in general is that demanding work schedules, complex job functions, lack of support. Even workplace violence plays a role in burnout and stress among health care workers. In clinicians, we also see a high level of administrative burden, lack of autonomy and moral injuries as contributors to burnout.

It seems like that administrative burden has been growing and growing all the time. I know that you and your team have been advocating for a holistic approach to addressing burnout among health care workers. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, I really think that a holistic approach is what's needed so that we have efforts at the individual level, at the organizational level, as well as at the system level to address this issue. We also need to change the way we think about burnout and to be have a broader sense of what that is. So I've changed the way I'm talking about this issue and I'm phrasing our solutions in that we need to have build solutions that work on the health, safety and well-being of health care workers, because all of those are contributors to employee success and they're all connected.

That makes a tremendous amount of sense. And it really is easy to overlook all of the factors that would contribute to well-being among health care workers in the workplace. I know you've been working on the design of interventions. Can you tell us more about what they are and how are they implemented?

We think that organizations can play a huge role in in addressing and supporting the health, safety and well-being of health care workers. And so this you know, the first thing is to build a supportive work environment so that employees feel safe physically, psychologically, emotionally. We may also need to look at the redesign of jobs, redesign of work arrangements and schedules.

We know that employees want sincere efforts from health care managers and leaders to recognize the issues around stress and burnout and to include employees in efforts to address this issue.