Dec 5, 2023
New CDC research confirms U.S. health care workers are facing a mental health crisis and need support

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some worrying findings related to health care workers in the United States, who increasingly report harassment, burnout, and poor mental health as consequences of the job.

According to the research, 46% of health care workers reported feeling burned out in 2022, up from 32% in 2018. Additionally, the number of health care workers who reported negative workplace conditions such as harassment more than doubled from 2018 to 2022 (from 6% to 13%). Trust in management is also declining, the research found. In 2018 – prior to the pandemic – 84% of health care workers expressed trust in their management. That fell to 78% in 2022. The report also cited a decline in the number of health care workers who believe their workplace supports productivity, and an increase in the number of workers who plan to look for a new job.

Additionally, recent research from The Cigna Group found that nearly 1 in 5 U.S. health care workers sleep less than six hours each night, and 16% said that they rarely wake up rested. That study also found that 3 in 5 say they are lonely and about half feel that their personal life suffers because of work, causing them to struggle to find a healthy work-life balance.

The CDC study also found that health care workers had worse health outcomes in 2022, compared to 2018 – particularly related to anxiety and depression. The key takeaway: Health care employers must take steps to address their workforce’s health and well-being.

Health care employers may benefit from building strategies that help management and other staff prioritize wellness by providing opportunities for workers to care for their own health. Maintaining good manager-worker rapport while keeping workers informed about what is going on in the workplace is also paramount. Leaders must help foster resilience and connections at work, while also supporting workers’ family and personal commitments.

The CDC provides six tips employers can utilize to improve worker well-being and build a culture of health:

  1. Model and support taking time off.
  2. Include workers in decision-making.
  3. Assign a senior leader to promote the health and well-being of staff.
  4. Develop programs that place value on worker safety and health.
  5. Ensure adequate staffing to avoid burnout.
  6. Train supervisors and other members of management to provide support.

CDC study on health workers

Health workers face a mental health crisis

Explore the findings from the CDC's recent Quality of Worklife survey, which looks at the state of health and well-being among health care workers.

Learn more