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Organizational responses needed to address hospital worker burnout: science table

October 12, 2021
The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Ontario’s science advisers say a vicious cycle of health worker burnout and understaffing may be underway.

In a new research brief, the group calls for organizational responses to mitigate the problem that’s anticipated to continue through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table report published last week looks at patterns of burnout reported in Canada, North America and around the world during the pandemic.

Their research focused on hospital workers but the group says similar problems exist in other areas of health such as long-term care and public health.


The group says burnout was a significant problem in health-care before the pandemic but it has since reached levels that “pose a threat to maintaining a functioning health-care workforce.”

Research shows that nurses, those in intensive care and emergency departments, women, recent graduates and trainees are most at risk of burnout, which can lead to people leaving their jobs and contributing further to burnout risk among remaining staff.

The science advisers say organizational approaches are more effective at reducing burnout than responding to individual cases.

Their report says organizations should work to ensure adequate staffing, minimize administrative tasks that add to workload, reduce overtime and long shifts and avoid deploying staff to areas they lack training.

It also recommends bringing in more new graduates and retaining current staff with financial compensation and building supportive workplaces.

Ontario reported 573 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths on Friday. There were 154 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19, with 15 of them reported to be fully vaccinated.

Just under 87 per cent of eligible Ontarians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 82 per cent have both doses.

Also on Friday, the city of Toronto announced it would require proof of vaccination for anyone 12 and older to participate in indoor organized sports as of Nov. 1.

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