Health

STEPPS to Address Physician Stress

New recommendations seek to ameliorate stress among health care workers

A physician sits with her arms on a desk

New recommendations seek to ameliorate stress among health care workers

A new set of 12 recommendations for hospitals and health care institutions addresses moral stress in clinical practice and the ways that it impedes good care.

The recommendations for hospital leaders across the country come from the Study to Examine Physicians’ Pandemic Stress, a project by Carolina and The Hastings Center, a nonprofit organization that addresses social and ethical issues in health care, science and technology.

STEPPS is led by Mara Buchbinder, professor and vice chair in the UNC School of Medicine’s social medicine department, with funding from The Greenwall Foundation.

“Clinicians experience moral stress when they feel like they can’t provide good care because the systems they work in are working against them. Our findings make clear that the crisis of professional well-being facing our health care workforce is not only a mental health problem but also a moral one,” Buchbinder said.

“Extreme burnout of our health care workforce was present before the pandemic and has been exacerbated in a most extreme way these past few years as we continue to move through this continuous crisis,” said Dr. Nadia E. Charguia, director of UNC Health’s Taking Care of Our Own Program and a member of the STEPPS advisory board.

“We have an opportunity to learn and grow from all we have been through. We cannot continue to primarily focus on helping our workforce be more resilient when we are asking them to tolerate fractured and broken systems,” Charguia said.

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