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US healthcare workers more emotionally exhausted amid pandemic

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A survey of US healthcare workers (HCWs) before and during COVID-19 reveals that emotional exhaustion (EE)—a problem even before the pandemic—has worsened, threatening to compromise patient care and fuel staff turnover.In the study, published today in JAMA Network Open, a team led by Duke University investigators analyzed 107,122 responses to the electronic Safety, Communication, Organizational Reliability, Physician, and Employee Burnout and Engagement (SCORE) survey fielded in September 2019, September 2020, and September 2021 to January 2022.Respondents included HCWs in clinical and nonclinical roles at 76 community hospitals within two large healthcare systems.

The most commonly reported role was nursing (40.9%), and 16.9% had worked less than 1 year at their workplace, while 56.2% reported 1 to 10 years and 26.9% 11 years or more.'A social contagion effect'During the study period, estimated rates of EE rose from 31.8% in 2019 to 40.4% (proportional increase, 26.9%).

Physicians reported less EE from 2019 to 2020 (31.8% to 28.3%) but more EE (37.8%) in 2021. Nurses' EE climbed from 40.6% in 2019 to 46.5% in 2020 and 49.2% in 2021 and 2022.

Compared with nurses, HCWs in other roles showed a comparable but milder trend in EE."Intraclass correlation coefficients revealed clustering of exhaustion within work settings across the 3 years, with coefficients of 0.15 to 0.17 for emotional exhaustion and 0.22 to 0.24 for emotional exhaustion climate, higher than the .10 coefficient typical of organizational climate (a medium effect for shared variance), suggestive of a social contagion effect of HCW exhaustion," the researchers wrote.HCWs in every role at every time point—including two of three in late 2021—reported that their

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