Weekly Review: Ethics, Law & Policy – Staff, Stuff, Space & Systems – April 26, 2021

Weekly Review: Ethics, Law & Policy – Staff, Stuff, Space & Systems – April 26, 2021

Health Care Workers

 This Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post report presents findings from a nationally representative sample of over 1,300 frontline heath care workers from various care settings, part of an ongoing series of such surveys since 1995. Among the most noteworthy findings:

  • A majority (62%) say COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health due to worry or stress, with many abnormal sleep patterns (47%), frequent headaches or stomachaches (31%), or increased alcohol or drug use (16%). One in five (20%) reported that they needed mental health services or medication but didn’t receive them, while an additional 13% had received such services.
  • Worry and stress are particularly high among the youngest health care workers (18-29 years old), of whom 75% report negative mental health impacts.
  • Over half (56%) report that their workplace reached over-capacity of ICU beds to treat critical patients, and 34% who work in hospitals or nursing homes report that their workplace ran out of PPE for employees at some point.
  • Almost three in ten (29%) considered no longer working in health care as a result of the pandemic.
  • Many reported that their employers were “doing about the right amount” or “going above and beyond” with respect to ensuring employees have the ability to get vaccinated (88% combined) and providing paid sick leave for employees who have COVID-19 (66% combined), but a majority (56%) said their employers were falling short regarding additional pay for employees working in the most high-risk situations.

This article by Halley et al. presents the results of an online survey of over 1,800 female physicians with children or who are pregnant about the challenges they experienced at work and home during the pandemic. This mixed-methods study includes detailed insights that are useful in developing policies and practices to support health care workers as a broad and varied group.

  • A need for community and government support (including public health measures like stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and masking) was the most frequently identified need (47%).
  • Frontline physicians more frequently raised concerns about personal health and safety, organizational communication and relationships, and family health and safety. Non-frontline physicians more frequently noted concerns of patient care and safety and financial and job security.
  • Those with elementary school-aged children more often raised concerns about parenting and homeschooling and work/life balance, while those with preschool-aged children more frequently noted access to childcare and spouse or partner relationships. Many of these findings highlight the heterogeneity of the health care workforce, including among physicians.
  • Many face additional challenges due to structural inequalities related to gender (e.g., discrimination, unequal pay, greater expectations of childcare and household duties), and many of those with children faced additional, compounding challenges over the past year.
|2021-04-26T08:31:20-04:00April 26th, 2021|COVID-19 Literature|0 Comments

About the Author: Daniel Orenstein

Daniel Orenstein
Daniel G. Orenstein, JD, MPH, is Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He teaches in the areas of administrative law, public health law, and health care law and policy. His research focuses on public health law, policy, and ethics, and he was previously Deputy Director of the Network for Public Health Law Western Region, where much of his work centered on emergency preparedness and response, including resource allocation and government authority during declared emergencies, as well as vaccination policy.

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