Organizational responses needed to address hospital worker burnout

Ontario’s science advisers say a vicious cycle of health worker burnout and understaffing may be underway.

In a new research brief, the group calls for organizational responses to mitigate the problem that’s anticipated to continue through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The ” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table report published this week looks at patterns of burnout reported in Canada, North America and around the world during the pandemic.

Their research focused on hospital workers but the group says similar problems exist in other areas of health such as long-term care and public health.

The group says burnout was a significant problem in health-care before the pandemic but it has since reached levels that “pose a threat to maintaining a functioning health-care workforce.”

Research shows that nurses, those in intensive care and emergency departments, women, recent graduates and trainees are most at risk of burnout, which can lead to people leaving their jobs and contributing further to burnout risk among remaining staff.

The science advisers say organizational approaches are more effective at reducing burnout than responding to individual cases.

Their report says organizations should work to ensure adequate staffing, minimize administrative tasks that add to workload, reduce overtime and long shifts and avoid deploying staff to areas they lack training.

It also recommends bringing in more new graduates and retaining current staff with financial compensation and building supportive workplaces.

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