Health workers report harassment, symptoms of poor mental health, and difficult working conditions

Oct. 25, 2023
A new report from the CDC says that more than double the number of health workers reported harassment at work in 2022 than in 2018

More than double the number of health workers reported harassment at work in 2022 than in 2018. This may include threats, bullying, verbal abuse, or other actions from patients and coworkers that create a hostile work environment. This finding has important implications for health worker mental health, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report.

Health worker burnout was at crisis levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Vital Signs issue reports that the pandemic presented unique challenges that may have further impaired health worker mental health and increased health workers’ intent to leave their jobs.

  • This report is the first to describe and compare self-reported well-being and working conditions for health workers, other essential workers, and all other workers before the pandemic (2018) and after the start of the pandemic (2022). It shows that health workers have continued to face a mental health crisis. From 2018 to 2022, U.S. health workers experienced greater declines on a range of mental health outcomes than other workers.
  • Positive working conditions were found to be associated with reduced feelings of anxiety, depression, and burnout. These conditions may include the ability to participate in decision-making, trust in management, supervisor assistance, enough time to complete work, support for productivity, and lack of harassment.

“We depend on our nation’s health workers and they must be supported. Employers can act now by modifying working conditions associated with burnout and poor mental health outcomes in health settings. And, CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will be launching a national campaign—the Impact Wellbeing campaign—to provide health employers with resources to improve worker mental health,” said CDC chief medical officer Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H.

CDC has the report.