- Study finds burnout increased substantially during COVID-19
- Healthcare organizations have struggled to find a solution
- Halo Health’s webinar provides new strategies
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our global communities, clinicians are under persistent strain.
Within a month’s time we will approach the year mark of this pandemic being declared a national emergency. During this year, our clinicians have faced emotional and physical burdens non-healthcare providers can simply imagine. Largely lacking resources, support, and knowledge of how this virus would impact their patients and themselves, clinicians have bravely battled.
This battle, however, has left its mark. As a country, we will never again underestimate the possibility and power of a pandemic. And our clinicians will continue to struggle to reduce symptoms of burnout that can push them to peak physical and mental health concern.
Burnout During the COVID-19 Pandemic
A university medical center surveyed clinicians in December 2019, prior to the pandemic, to assess levels of burnout. The same clinician group was reassessed during May and June 2020.
Study results confirmed what we would expect to be true:
- 56% of clinicians (physicians and nurses) reported working overtime
- 88% of clinicians worked in a COVID-19 unit
- In the six-month duration, there was a 56.5% increase in burnout among clinicians
- The percentage of physician burnout more than doubled
- 26% of physicians experiencing burnout had previously reported no symptoms in December
- 21.7% of nurses experiencing burnout had previously reported no symptoms in December
Researchers also measured feelings of “moral distress” among clinicians which was defined as “professionals know the right thing to do but are prevented from doing so.” Moral distress during COVID-19 was found to be caused by lack of time, personnel and resources.
Finding a Solution – the Persistent Challenge
As troubling as these study results are, burnout has unfortunately been a concern for clinicians long before the emergence of COVID-19. And reducing this syndrome has been a persistent challenge for healthcare organizations.
To date, healthcare organizations have had varied extents of success attempting to reduce burnout – but none significantly.
Reasoning for lack of effectiveness ranges but can often be attributed to healthcare organizations failing to deploy a two-prong reduction strategy, including individual-based solutions and widespread organizational change.
Organizational changes should be based on evidence of efficacy in reducing clinical burden, improving collaboration, and reducing burnout.