Since “Peace on earth, goodwill to men” is a common sentiment shared in December, I thought it would be befitting to share the need for more peace and goodwill in healthcare.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that healthcare workers are experiencing an increase in harassment, symptoms of poor mental health, and negative working conditions.1 This Vital Signs report contains an analysis from the CDC Quality of Worklife survey, which focused on well-being and working conditions, comparing data from 2018 to 2022. From 2018 to 2022, U.S. health workers experienced greater declines on a range of mental health outcomes compared to other workers in the following areas:
- Burnout: In 2022, 46% of health workers reported feeling burned out often or very often compared to 32% in 2018. The percentage of other essential workers and all other workers reporting burnout was similar in the two years.
- Harassment: The percentage of health workers who reported experiencing harassment more than doubled, going from 6% in 2018 to 13% in 2022. Other essential workers also reported an increase, from 8% in 2018 to 11% in 2022.
- Trust in management: In 2022, 78% of health workers agreed or strongly agreed that they trusted management, compared to 84% in 2018. Other essential workers reported a smaller drop in trust in management — down to 77% in 2022 from 81% in 2018.
- Workplace productivity: In 2022, 82% of health workers reported that their workplace conditions supported productivity, down from 91% in 2018. Other essential workers reported a smaller decrease — down to 77% in 2022 from 84% in 2018.
- Turnover intention: In 2022, the percentage of health workers who intended to look for a new job increased to 44%, up from 33% in 2018. The percentage of other essential workers and all other workers who intended to look for a new job decreased.
Healthcare workers who experienced harassment were more likely to report burnout, depression, and anxiety, compared with those who did not.
Following this report, the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health First announced the first federal campaign specifically for hospitals to decrease healthcare workers’ burnout. The Impact Wellbeing campaign provides hospital leaders with evidence-informed resources to improve workplace policies and practices that reduce burnout, normalize help-seeking, and strengthen professional wellbeing.2 The goalsof the campaign are to engage hospital leaders to revise existing or implement new evidence-informed operational policies that reduce burnout and improve professional wellbeing of hospital staff; remove barriers and reduce the perceived stigma that prevent healthcare workers from seeking mental health–related services and support; and reduce burnout and improve the professional wellbeing of healthcare workers in hospital settings.3
With increased awareness and attention to this crisis, hopefully we can begin making meaningful changes in 2024.
I welcome your comments and questions — please send them to me at [email protected].
1. Nigam JAS, Barker RM, Cunningham TR, Swanson NG, Chosewood LC. vital signs: health worker–perceived working conditions and symptoms of poor mental health — quality of worklife survey, United States, 2018–2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2023;72(44):1197-1205. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7244e1.
2. Impact wellbeing. Cdc.gov. Published November 2, 2023. Accessed November 8, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/impactwellbeing/.
3. Background. Cdc.gov. Published November 2, 2023. Accessed November 8, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/impactwellbeing/background.html.