Discussion Paper: Pragmatic Approach to Measure Professional Well-Being

Updated: Nov 5, 2019

There is a high prevalence of burnout, depression, and suicide among health care professionals (HCPs) [1-5]. Compromised well-being among HCPs is associated with medical errors, medical malpractice suits, health care associated infections, patient mortality, lower interpersonal teamwork, lower patient satisfaction, job dissatisfaction, reduction in professional effort, and turnover of staff [2]. In addition, burnout among physicians is an independent predictor of suicidal ideation and substance abuse and dependence [6-9]. As burnout is adversely affecting quality, safety, and health care system performance, as well as the personal lives of HCPs, there is a need for organizations to add measures of HCP well-being to their routine institutional performance measures (e.g., patient volume, quality metrics, patient satisfaction, financial performance) [10, 11]. Institutional performance measures, including measurements of HCP well-being, hold the potential to substantially improve health care systems. However, putting measures in place without sufficient thought and care (e.g., insufficiently valid data) may result in the misdirection of resources, a false sense of the scope of the problem, and delay in improvement. The successful evaluation of HCP well-being depends on a series of strategic decisions, including who to survey (e.g., all employees or only a subset), how to survey (electronic or paper survey, local administration or external vendor), when to survey (timing and frequency), and what to include on the survey (i.e., items).

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