Sharing Challenges Can Improve Health Care Staff’s Well-Being

Health care workers who regularly share the emotional, social, or ethical challenges they face in the workplace experience less psychological distress, improved teamwork, and increased empathy and compassion for patients and colleagues, according to a new U.K. study.

Researchers from the University of Surrey, Kings College London, the University of Sheffield and the King’s Fund examined the impact of Schwartz Center Rounds on both clinical and non-clinical staff. Rounds are monthly forums that offer a safe space for staff to share experiences with colleagues and to discuss the challenges they face in their work and its impact on them, researchers explained.

For the study, the psychological wellbeing of 500 staff members was measured over an eight-month period, using the clinically validated GHQ-12questionnaire.

Researchers found that the well-being of staff who attended rounds regularly significantly improved, with the proportion of those with psychological distress dropping by half; down from 25 percent to 12 percent.

There was little change in the psychological well-being of staff that did not attend rounds over this period.

When asked of the benefits of rounds, participants noted that attending led to greater understanding, empathy, and tolerance towards colleagues and patients and positive changes in practice.

“Delivering care to patients at some of the most challenging times in their lives has an emotional impact on staff, which undoubtedly impacts on their own well-being and on their work,” said Dr. Jill Maben, professor of nursing at the University of Surrey and formerly of Kings College London.

“Our study is the first in the U.K. to demonstrate that those who regularly attend rounds see significant benefits. Their symptoms of anxiety and depression are reduced, they are better able to cope with the issues they face and have more empathy towards patients and colleagues, which undeniably has a positive impact on those in their care.”

“NHS and hospice staff are the unsung heroes of our society, but the physical and emotional demands placed on them often go unnoticed, leading to high rates of burn out and people often leaving the profession,” added Dr. Cath Taylor, reader at the University of Surrey and formerly of King College London. “Rounds are a unique organizational-wide intervention that we found benefitted many attendees.”

“The rounds offer a unique space for all staff in organizations to come together as equals, to share experiences and listen to one another,” noted Jocelyn Cornwell, Chief Executive of The Point of Care Foundation, which holds the license to promote and support Schwartz Rounds in the UK and Ireland. “In environments in which staff are under tremendous pressure, the rounds offer a much-needed space for reflection and renewal.”

Source: The University of Surrey