NIOSH Releases Guide to Improve Healthcare Worker Burnout

By Jay Kumar

As part of its campaign to address healthcare worker burnout, the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on March 18 released a guide designed to help hospital leaders improve healthcare worker wellbeing.

“The role of healthcare workers in taking care of all of us is absolutely vital to our society, to our economy, and to our culture. But our healthcare workforce needs to feel supported, too,” said John Howard, MD, Director of NIOSH, in a release. “The Guide includes six action steps to implement and accelerate professional wellbeing, which enables leaders to make systems-level changes and builds trust between leaders and healthcare workers.”

NIOSH’s Impact WellbeingTM Guide: Taking Action to Improve Healthcare Worker Wellbeing is part of the Impact WellbeingTM campaign that was launched in October 2023. It provides a step-by-step process for hospitals to make organizational changes to improve workers’ mental health.

The guide outlines six steps for leaders to take that were tested and refined with a working group of six U.S. hospitals. The steps are as follows:

  • Conduct a review of your hospital’s operations to determine how they support professional wellbeing.
  • Build a dedicated team to support professional wellbeing at your hospital.
  • Remove barriers to seeking care, such as intrusive mental health questions on credentialing applications.
  • Develop a suite of communications tools to help you share updates with your workforce about your hospital’s plans to improve worker wellbeing.
  • Integrate professional wellbeing measures into an ongoing quality improvement project.
  • Create a 12-month plan to continue to advance your hospital’s professional wellbeing work.

The guide’s steps were pilot tested from July through December 2023 in six hospitals from CommonSpirit Health, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the U.S. The hospitals were: CHI St. Vincent Infirmary, CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs, CHI Saint Joseph Hospital, CHI Health-Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy, CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs, and CHI Health Lakeside.

“As we navigate the challenges of healthcare, prioritizing the wellbeing of our healthcare workforce is always a priority,” said Paul Raines, System SVP Behavioral Health at CommonSpirit Health, in a statement. “Through the pilot program, this Guide has acted as a catalyst, allowing these six hospitals to effectively and efficiently accelerate the existing tools and resources we have developed as a healthcare system. The Guide is an important component as we seek to ensure that hospital leaders have the right tools to provide a supportive environment for the healthcare workers who take such good care of our communities.”

To explore the guide and other resources, visit CDC Impact Wellbeing.