July 10, 2023

Physician, nurse well-being and preferred interventions to address burnout

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

This study by nurse researcher Linda H. Aiken, PhD, RN, and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, finds that deliberate actions by management are needed to improve nurse staffing, clinician control over workloads, and work environments.

A total of 5,312 physicians and 15,738 nurses at 60 nationally distributed Magnet hospitals were surveyed between February 21, 2022, and March 28, 2023.

Among the findings:

  • 32% of physicians and 47% of nurses reported experiencing high burnout, and nurse burnout was linked to higher turnover of both nurses and physicians
  • 87% of nurses and 45% of physicians ranked improvement of nurse staffing the highest among interventions that were needed
  • 12% of physicians and 26% of nurses rated their hospitals unfavorably on patient safety
  • 20% of physicians and 34% of nurses reported having poor work environments, and less than 10% of clinicians described their workplace as joyful
  • 42% of physicians and 46% of nurses said they lacked confidence in management
  • Both physicians and nurses rated management interventions to improve care delivery as more important to their mental health and well-being than interventions directed at improving clinicians’ mental health.

The findings provide empirical evidence that physicians and nurses are under substantial stress, even in Magnet hospitals known to be good places to work, which threatens the retention and vitality of the healthcare workforce and patient safety, the researchers say.


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