Nurses' burnout must be tackled at organisational level, say researchers

Individual interventions more effective if the employer's wider culture changes too

Nurses are more likely than any other healthcare professionals to report symptoms of work-related stress, say researchers.

A team from Leeds Beckett University suggests initiatives to tackle this stress on an individual or small-group level, such as workshops and cognitive behavioural programmes, would be more effective if wider cultural and organisational change took place at the same time.

Organisational change could be promoted by open communication, involving employees in the planning and implementation of new programmes and consistent support from managers, say the researchers, who were commissioned by Public Health England (PHE).

Leeds Beckett reader in health promotion James Woodall said: ‘Although there is evidence on what works to treat burnout and work-related stress, there is less on what works to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

‘There is some evidence to suggest organisational interventions, such as changes to workload or working practices, produce longer-lasting reductions.’

PHE’s interim deputy director for health and wellbeing Justin Varney said: ‘This evidence review highlights workplaces as a key setting for improving people’s mental and physical health, as well as their overall wellbeing.

Having a healthy workforce can reduce sickness absence, lower staff turnover and boost productivity. Employers can’t afford to wait until staff burnout happens. It is in their interest to implement healthy interventions that can prevent the main causes of it.’

The UK Labour Force Survey in 2013-14 suggested work-related stress, depression or anxiety account for 39% of all cases of work-related illnesses.

Read the full report here


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