NIOSH Launches Guide to Combat Healthcare Worker Burnout

By Alana Smart / May 8, 2024 / Uncategorized ,

NIOSH Launches Guide to Combat Healthcare Worker Burnout

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has launched a well-being guide to combat healthcare worker burnout and help hospitals prioritize workers’ mental well-being. This comes amid growing concerns about burnout among healthcare workers. The guide, which was released in March 2024, is part of the first federal campaign to address this critical issue. It is designed to provide hospital leaders with actionable strategies to make organizational-level changes and enhance employee well-being.

The Impact Wellbeing Guide: Taking Action to Improve Healthcare Worker Wellbeing is a pivotal component of the broader Impact Wellbeing Campaign, which started in October 2023 to address the urgent mental health crisis facing healthcare workers. Despite their crucial role in caring for society, healthcare workers themselves are confronting unprecedented levels of stress and burnout. Firstly, amidst the stress of the pandemic, and subsequently, while contending with continued staffing issues and heavy workloads concurrently. This situation highlights the pressing need for support from hospital systems.

“The role of healthcare workers in taking care of all of us is vital to our society, economy, and culture. But our healthcare workforce needs to feel supported, too,” said John Howard, MD, Director of NIOSH, in a press release. The Guide includes six action steps to implement and accelerate professional well-being, which enables leaders to make systems-level changes and builds trust between leaders and healthcare workers.”

The guide is based on previous research and incorporates NIOSH’s 50 years of experience. Additionally, it takes into account the findings from pilot programs conducted at 6 hospitals between July and December 2023. As a result, NIOSH has refined a series of 6 key steps that hospital leadership should follow:

  1. Conduct a review of your hospital’s operations to determine how they support professional well-being.
  2. Build a dedicated team to support professional well-being at your hospital.
  3. Remove barriers to seeking care, such as intrusive mental health questions on credentialing applications.
  4. Develop a suite of communication tools that help you share updates with your workforce about your hospital’s journey to improve professional well-being.
  5. Integrate professional well-being measures into an ongoing quality improvement project.
  6. Create a 12-month plan to continue to move your hospital’s professional well-being work forward.

Integral to the guide’s success is its emphasis on integration and sustainability. Accordingly, by embedding well-being measures into existing quality improvement projects and crafting long-term plans for continued progress, hospitals can ensure that the well-being of their workforce remains a top priority.

The release of this guide comes at a critical juncture as the mental health challenges continue to escalate. According to NIOSH, the number of healthcare workers reporting harassment on the job has doubled from 2018 to 2022. Moreover, the prevalence of burnout among healthcare workers has increased significantly. Forty-six percent of healthcare workers reported feeling burned out in 2022 compared to 32% four years earlier.

The NIOSH guide aims to empower hospitals to create supportive environments that prioritize the mental well-being of their workforce by providing employers with a structured framework to address these challenges. As healthcare organizations navigate employee burnout, initiatives like the NIOSH guide offer hope and practical solutions to safeguard the mental health of those entrusted with caring for others.



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