Monday, July 18, 2022

Child Care Stress Among Health Care Workers Associated With Burnout, Intent to Reduce Hours

Health care workers who reported experiencing high levels of stress about child care during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to report anxiety, depression, and burnout compared with those without child care stress, according to a report published today in JAMA Network Open. Health care workers experiencing such stress were also more likely to report an intent to reduce their hours or leave their position than those without child care stress.

“Since the start of the pandemic, 1 in 5 [health care workers] has quit their job according to a poll conducted in September 2021,” wrote Elizabeth M. Harry, M.D., of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and colleagues. “[P]rograms to reduce [child care stress] may be beneficial for workers and health systems.”

The findings were based on the results of the 14-item Coping with COVID survey of 58,408 health care workers (including 15,766 physicians and 11,409 nurses), conducted between April and December 2020. Survey participants were asked about their experiences with anxiety or depression; concerns about such factors as child care, work overload, and exposure of self and family members to COVID; and the likelihood they might reduce clinical care hours over the next year or leave practice within two years.

About 21% of all health care workers surveyed reported experiencing child care stress. “Racial and ethnic minority individuals had 40% to 50% greater odds of reporting [child care stress] than white respondents, and women had 22% greater odds of reporting [child care stress] than men,” Harry and colleagues reported. Those experiencing child care stress had 115% greater odds of anxiety or depression and 80% greater odds of burnout than those without child care stress, the authors continued. Additionally, participants who reported high child care stress were more likely to endorse an intent to reduce their clinical hours or leave their practice compared with those without child care stress.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had … myriad … effects on [health care workers] that put our workforce at risk,” Harry and colleagues wrote. “Workplaces that can accommodate change on short notice, provide on-site care for ill children or on-site schools, and are aware of worker concerns about their children will be better positioned to show workers they are a caring environment, one that, we hope, workers would be more likely to remain with rather than leaving for shift work in other settings, a scenario that is currently occurring in large numbers.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric Services article “Health Care Workers’ Mental Health and Quality of Life During COVID-19: Results From a Mid-Pandemic, National Survey.

(Image: iStock/SeventyFour)

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Extended Through Mid-October

The Department of Health and Human Services has renewed the public health emergency until October 13 due to the continued consequences of COVID-19. States will be given 60 days’ notice before termination of the public health emergency. The public health emergency was initially declared in January 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began.


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