Five Solutions to Ease COVID-19 Burnout

The issue of burnout among physicians and other health care professionals is not new. A national survey, however, has found that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated burnout and presented unique challenges for these medical professionals.

“Prevalence and correlates of stress and burnout among U.S. healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national cross-sectional survey study” was published in The Lancet open-access journal EClinicalMedicine and was co-written by researchers from the American Medical Association (AMA) and Hennepin Healthcare.

Using the AMA Coping with COVID-19 for Caregivers Survey, 20,947 health professionals from 42 health care organizations across the country assessed their workers’ stress during the pandemic, between May 28 and Oct. 1, 2020. Survey results showed that 61% of respondents felt high fear of exposing themselves or their families to COVID-19, and 38% reported experiencing anxiety or depression. Additional findings indicated that 43% suffered from work overload and 49% were experiencing burnout.

Stress scores were highest among medical support staff, but odds of burnout were 40% lower in those who felt valued by their organizations, which was 46% of respondents.

The AMA offers the following solutions to help improve well-being and reduce burnout, during and after the ongoing pandemic:

  1. Meet basic needs. This includes having healthy food easily available and focusing on personal and family safety.
  2. Streamline communications. Leaders need to be transparent and clear in their communication and acknowledge uncertainty. Wide ranges of emotions should be normalized.
  3. Allow for reflection and processing. Formal or informal peer-support programs should be encouraged, because they do work.
  4. Make it ok to get help. Almost 70% of the survey respondents noted that personal access to mental health care would be helpful during times of crisis, which highlights the need for making mental health support access easily available and encouraged.
  5. Measure and share results. It’s important to host a town hall or share some of the data in another way, so people know they have been seen and heard by the organization.

The full article, which also offers additional resources, is available here.