April 27, 2020

New report highlights the most effective interventions to promote the health and well-being of physicians and nurses

Systematic review critical to addressing burnout, mental health during pandemic

A new systematic review published today in the American Journal of Health Promotion that focuses on interventions to promote the health and well-being of physicians and nurses urges health care systems to incorporate programs supported by research that can help clinicians reduce symptoms of burnout, including stress, anxiety and depression.

Alarming rates of burnout, depression and suicide are not only negatively impacting physicians and nurses, but they are also linked to several negative consequences for health care systems, including dangerous medical errors and costly turnover. With the added stress of COVID-19, these alarming issues are likely to escalate.

This rigorous systematic review was conducted by an interprofessional research team as part of the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-being and Resilience. The team was led by Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAAN, who serves as The Ohio State University’s vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing. The team reviewed 187 studies that led to the final inclusion of 29 studies with nearly 3,000 participants. Effective interventions identified in the review include:

  • Mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral therapy-based interventions for reducing stress, anxiety and depression
  • Brief interventions that incorporate deep breathing and gratitude
  • Visual triggers, pedometers and health coaching with texting for physical activity

“This review was designed to pinpoint those interventions that are most effective in decreasing depression, stress and anxiety, as well as enhancing healthy lifestyle behaviors in physicians and nurses ” Melnyk said. “Mental health problems were a public health epidemic that negatively impacted the quality and safety of care before the COVID-19 crisis started. Health care systems must urgently invest in wellness cultures and evidence-based interventions to prevent a tsunami of these problems in frontline clinicians following this pandemic.”

The study, “Interventions to Improve Mental Health, Well-being, Physical Health and Lifestyle Behaviors in Physicians and Nurses: A Systematic Review,” is available online at this link.

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