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CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Launches First Federal Campaign for Hospitals to Tackle Healthcare Workers Burnout | CDC Online Newsroom


Washington, D.C. (October 31, 2023) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announced today the launch of Impact Wellbeing. This new campaign provides hospital leaders with evidence-informed resources to improve workplace policies and practices that reduce burnout, normalize help-seeking, and strengthen professional wellbeing.

“Even before the pandemic, healthcare workers faced challenging working conditions that lead to burnout. This includes long work hours, risk for hazardous exposures, stressful work, and high administrative burdens,” said John Howard, MD, Director of NIOSH. “Hospital leaders need support to implement organizational changes. Practical adjustments can reduce burnout and strengthen professional wellbeing within their hospitals.”

Impact Wellbeing supports hospital leaders, and in turn their healthcare workforce, by providing actionable steps to fine-tune quality improvements, establish new workflows, and help staff feel safe seeking help. To get started in operational-level solutions, practices, and policies for incremental, sustained impact, hospital leaders can access the following campaign resources:

  • NIOSH Worker Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBQ): Understand how your workforce is doing and identify ways to improve healthcare worker wellbeing.
  • Leadership Storytelling Guide: Help hospital leaders talk publicly about getting help for their own mental health concerns and encourage staff to do the same, using this guide from the Health Action Alliance.
  • Total Worker Health® Strategies: Train front-line supervisors to help their staff balance their work and home responsibilities using supportive supervision.

Additionally, hospital leaders can remove one of the most substantial system barriers to healthcare worker wellbeing—intrusive mental health questions on hospital credentialing applications.1, 2, 3 Auditing and changing hospital credentialing application questions removes barriers to care and sends a clear message to healthcare workers that their hospital supports their wellbeing and mental health. The Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation developed three simple steps hospital leaders can follow to make it safe for their healthcare workers to seek care.

“Like everyone, healthcare workers deserve the right to pursue mental health care without fear of losing their job because of stigmatizing and discriminatory questions,” said J. Corey Feist, JD, MBA, Co-Founder and President of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation. “My sister-in-law, Dr. Lorna Breen, experienced this barrier firsthand, confiding in our family that she was fearful of being ostracized at work if she acknowledged that she needed help. Shortly after, she died by suicide. Sadly, I have heard from numerous families who lost healthcare worker loved ones to suicide who expressed the same concerns as Lorna.”

For more than 50 years, NIOSH has empowered workers and employers, including hospital leaders, with strategies and resources to create sustainable, safe workplaces. Impact Wellbeing builds upon these efforts and speaks directly to hospital leaders to address the operational factors within hospitals that contribute to burnout.

“Although some causes of burnout may take time to address, there are many feasible ways to champion a healthy workforce and hospital system,” said Casey Chosewood, MD, MPH, Director of the Office for Total Worker Health at NIOSH. “By identifying and implementing practical operational adjustments, hospital leaders can help healthcare workers continue doing what they do best—delivering the highest quality patient care.”

Explore Impact Wellbeing resources at www.cdc.gov/impactwellbeing.

Impact Wellbeing is made possible by the COVID-19 American Rescue Plan of 2021.  It builds on momentum from the passage of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act.

Established under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, NIOSH is the federal research institute focused on the study of worker safety and health, and empowering employers and workers to create safe and healthy workplaces. For more information about NIOSH, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/.

References

  1. American Hospital Association [2022]. Suicide prevention. Washington, DC: American Hospital Association.
  2. The Physicians Foundation [2022]. 2022 survey of America’s physicians: Part two of three: Understanding the state of physicians’ wellbeing and assessing solutions to address it. Boston, MA: The Physicians Foundation.
  3. Weston MJ, Nordberg A [2022]. Stigma: A barrier in supporting nurse well-being during the pandemic. Nurse Lead 20(2):174-178



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