Bringing the invisible battle into view

Understanding health care stressors and mental well-being in COVID-19 frontline workers

Frontline caregivers are not always contracting COVID-19, but they are catching unseen side effects such as chronic burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This report brings insights of empathy that will help you understand the emotional cost of COVID-19 and gives practical steps to help restore wholeness to these heroes.

Executive Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented stress in health care workers, from physicians and nurses to food services and sanitation workers.1 And buried within these health care stressors is an unusual combination of pressure and ambiguity: The timeline to recovery is unclear; as people are still trying to understand how best to treat COVID-19, and caregivers are faced with the reality that they can transmit the disease to loved ones and one another due to greater levels of exposure.

Our team conducted virtual focus groups with US-based clinicians on the front lines and secondary research to understand the key stressors that frontline caregivers are facing within the broader context of the pandemic. This point of view details how COVID-19 has amplified preexisting challenges of burnout, distress, and maintaining well-being and provides a list of proactive approaches that health care organizations can leverage to help better support caregiver well-being.

Key stressors

Caring that really feels like it

Our new report identified 15 practical strategies that hospital administrators and leaders can employ now to address stress in health care workers. These range from mental health and well-being support to operations and culture.

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