Communications Officer
Havas Lynx Group recently developed the Healing the Healers campaign, report and podcast series, shedding light on the deteriorating state of healthcare professional wellbeing and the critical impact it may have on our global healthcare systems if left unattended. Learn more about their work in Dare!.

What are the primary factors contributing to the deterioration of healthcare professional’s wellbeing?

We are witnessing the fastest deterioration in wellbeing in recorded history. It feels almost ironic to be talking about an industry entirely built up around the health of individuals, yet somehow, it’s overlooked the health of its own healthcare professionals (HCPs).

Burnout for HCPs is not a new subject, but it is now at a critical point. From our own research and data, we know that physicians across a range of specialities experience almost a quarter more negative emotions on a weekly basis compared to the public. And this is on a global level too, with our data demonstrating burnout to be true across Europe, China, Brazil, and Japan.

“Burnout in the UK’s healthcare industry has reached its highest level since 2018 when the General Medical Council began tracking it. No discipline is immune, but emergency medicine, surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology, and general practice are particularly severely affected. Nurses and pharmacists are also affected. This rapidly growing tumour threatens the very foundations of healthcare.”

Tapas Mukherjee, Medical Director, Havas Lynx Group

When we look at the causes – there isn’t any one thing which is contributing to the burnout of HCPs. Stressors include:

  • Workload and working conditions – 71% of HCPs say that their workloads are increasing
  • Lack of reward and recognition – 37% do not believe pay and benefits reflect performance and contribution
  • Cognitive burden – 42% neurologists, 46% oncologists, and 34% dermatologists say they feel overwhelmed
  • Bureaucracy – 68% cite paperwork as causes to high levels of stress
  • Loneliness and relationships – 37% agreed that they sometimes feel lonely at work
  • Death/grief – 7% spontaneously mentioned lack of treatment options for areas of high unmet need as biggest challenge
  • Adverse media attention – 42% say adverse media publicity adds to extreme pressure at work – this rises to 57% in China and 45% in Brazil
  • Systemic bias – 65% of oncologists and 60% of dermatologists believe improving diversity will lead to better patient care
  • Culture and bullying – 5% spontaneously mentioned workplace bullying as biggest challenge

All of the above data is attributed to Point.1 by Havas Lynx Group* – unless stated, this is global data

Using Point.1 data, we were able to uncover significant stressors that otherwise may have been overlooked (i.e., adverse media attention). All of the above causes and stressors accumulate over a long period of time leading to depression, anxiety, manifesting in moral distress.

What are the potential long-term consequences if the issue of poor mental well-being and burnout among healthcare professionals remains unaddressed?

The impact and long-term consequences of the burnout epidemic facing HCPs is both visible and invisible. It’s visible through the increasing exodus of HCPs from healthcare worldwide – 24% of physicians globally agree that they will leave direct patient care in the next 5 years.

But it’s also invisible through darker emotions of burnout, depression, and anxiety – all of which is culminating in some HCPs taking their own life. A devastating statistic from our secondary research showed HCPs are 5 – 7 times more likely to take their own life than the general public.

Can you give us some examples of the different barriers to better health?

The barriers are multi-faceted, but many can be attributed to:

  • Organisational
  • Psychological
  • Socio-cultural

Organisational barriers, potentially driven by a lack of funding and resource in the healthcare system, means support for HCPs has been in short supply.

75% of physicians around the world say their organisations do not offer any wellbeing programmes, whilst 29% say they take no breaks during the working day. Where there is support, unfortunately HCPs see it as reactive or inadequate for their needs, or else difficult to access at a time that suits them.

However, charities such as Doctors in Distress in the UK, are working to support HCPs. One of their efforts has seen them campaign to UK government calling for healthcare workers to be contractually provided with at least one hour per month to emotionally process their work. They are a fantastic charity who are truly trying to make a difference – you can learn more about their work here.

As well as the logistical barriers – perhaps a bigger challenge facing HCPs is the sector’s unhealthy culture which is creating psychological and socio-cultural barriers that inhibit them from seeking, receiving, and benefiting from support. Point.1 data revealed 1 in 20 HCPs spontaneously mentioned workplace bullying, whilst our secondary research revealed HCPs were concerned about seeking help as it may say something ‘negative about them’ – with 41% saying they were afraid that a medical board or their employer would find out. Challenging this pernicious culture is imperative to overcoming barriers for HCPs seeking support for their mental health.

How does the Healing the Healers campaign propose to address these challenges?

Healing the Healers is a call to not only the healthcare industry, but a call to wider society. 

We acknowledge the multi-faceted and complex nature of this crisis. It will take all stakeholders – public, healthcare organisations, policy makers, governments, and pharmaceutical and bio-tech companies – to work together to reverse this trend.

“Supporting HCPs in their mental health is a prerequisite for a working healthcare system, advancements in medicine, and optimal patient care. It’s important for all stakeholders to acknowledge the problem, minimise the causes and consequences, remove the barriers to identifying solutions, and ultimately champion the change and support essential for our HCPs.”

Claire Knapp, Chief Executive Officer, Havas Lynx Group

Following a live hackathon as part of the Havas Lynx Group internal launch of Healing the Healers, we have one of our teams working on a potential solution. We know there’s lots of work to be done, but just one idea could make a huge difference.

But to anyone in Havas who is willing to support this cause – we’re open to your ideas to work collaboratively and progressively to truly make an impact that matters.

“We expect healthcare professionals to be superhuman. It’s perhaps easy to understand why – we desperately want the people who care for us, prescribe for us, or operate on us to be totally infallible. But of course, no one is… And we owe it to them, more than ever, to acknowledge that a set of scrubs doesn’t give a person special powers. We need to help them and to find better ways to support them – so they can continue doing the jobs they love. Before it’s too late. We need to do more to care for the carers.”

Adam Kay, BAFTA-winning TV writer, author, comedian, and former doctor

To learn more about Healing the Healers, head to the website here. You can read the full report, watch the campaign film, and listen to the white paper.

If you’re interested in speaking to the team about the campaign, then please reach out to Emily Beasley, Head of Communications at Havas Lynx Group.

*Healing the Healers has been supported by data from Point.1, a proprietary data solution from Havas Lynx Group, providing one of the most comprehensive global views of HCP attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, and influences to enable more powerful HCP strategies and experiences.

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