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CDC Report Highlights Need to Support Health Care Workforce

Agency reports ‘unique increase’ in mental health concerns

October 26, 2023

A new report from the CDC indicates health care workers are increasingly reporting concerns about mental health, harassment, and burnout, especially during the first years of the pandemic.

“CDC’s efforts to address health worker mental health come at the right time, as we see how health workers have self-reported a unique increase in poor mental health, especially after a global pandemic,” said L. Casey Chosewood, MD, MPH, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Office for Total Worker Health

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Key findings:   About 46 percent of health workers reported often feeling burned out during 2022 compared to 32 percent during 2018.
    •  The percentage of health workers who reported experiencing harassment went from 6 percent during 2018 to 13 percent during 2022.
  • National initiative:  The CDC report follows a 2022 Surgeon General’s Advisory outlining key steps to build a strong workforce and address burnout.
  • Positive connection:  Positive working conditions were associated with reduced feelings of anxiety, depression, and burnout.
    • This includes shared participation in decision-making, trust in management, supervisor assistance, enough time to complete work, support for productivity, and lack of harassment.
  • Resources available:  The report points to resources to support worker well-being, including the federal Total Worker Health Program and the Healthy Work Design and Well-Being Program.
  • Quotable:  “We depend on our nation’s health workers and they must be supported. Employers can act now by modifying working conditions associated with burnout and poor mental health outcomes in health settings,” Debra Houry, MD, MPH, CDC chief medical officer, said in a statement.

HAP and Pennsylvania hospitals continue to advocate for initiatives that support Pennsylvania’s health care workforce and improve the health and safety of hospital teams. This includes new hospital initiatives that support employee mental health and focus on connecting staff to available resources. HAP also is urging support for the Safety from Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act, which would:

  • Establish federal, criminal penalties for those who knowingly assault and intimidate hospital employees. The bill includes enhanced penalties for the use of a dangerous weapon that results in injury and acts committed during a public emergency, as well as exceptions for individuals who may be mentally incapacitated due to illness or substance use.
  • Authorize $25 million per year in grant funding over the next decade for initiatives to reduce violence and intimidation in hospitals.

The CDC report is available online.