Oct. 24 (UPI) — Nearly half of healthcare workers reported burnout in 2022, when reports of harassment more than doubled from before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC’s Vital Signs report, released Tuesday, compares self-reported well-being and working conditions in 2018 and 2022.
“COVID-19 intensified health workers’ longstanding challenges,” CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Debra Houry said during a media briefing. “Burnout among these workers has reached crisis level.”
Among those who experienced harassment, 85% reported feelings of anxiety, 60% reported feelings of depression and 81% reported feelings of burnout. Those who didn’t report harassment also experienced anxiety (53%), depression (31%) and burnout (42%).
“In this study, we saw that when working conditions are positive, and where health workers are supported and have the potential to thrive, poor mental health outcomes were less likely,” Dr. L. Casey Chosewood, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Office for Total Worker Health, said in a news release.
“Employers can make a critical difference here by taking preventive actions and improving difficult working conditions that are linked with anxiety, depression and burnout.”
NIOSH will launch the national Impact Wellbeing campaign this fall to address health worker mental health issues. Chosewood said the initiative aims to raise awareness and move beyond worker resilience to long-term, systemic solutions.
“The bottom line is this: We must take the research we have and act,” Chosewood said.
The study calls on healthcare employers to promote worker well-being through such measures as:
- Allowing workers to participate in decision-making
- Building trust in management
- Providing supervisor assistance and enough time to complete work
- Preventing and paying attention to harassment reports
The study analyzed data from the General Social Survey Quality of Worklife Module, which included 226 health workers in 2018 and 325 in 2022.
In 2022, health workers reported 4.5 days of poor mental health during the previous 30 days, up from 3.3 in 2018. In 2022, 19% of health workers reported feeling burnout very often, up from 11.6% in 2018.
Odds of burnout decreased among health workers who reported they trusted management, had enough time to complete work and felt their workplace supported productivity.
Worker retention also is an issue, with 44.2% of health workers reporting they were somewhat or very likely to look for a new job in 2022.