Stress in the time of a pandemic

Understanding health care provider stress, wellbeing

Sept 9, 2020

Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and the School of Public Health are investigating how stress is affecting Minnesota health care providers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While a health care workforce is essential to an effective pandemic response, health care professionals are at a greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19. They also face economic challenges related to clinic closures and layoffs.

The study is seeking to understand how health care professionals experience stress, stress management, employee assistance, financial security and COVID-19 symptoms and diagnosis over a 12-month period. Study findings will help inform the development or expansion of organizational support within health care systems to encourage the wellbeing of the health care workforce.

“High-quality patient care is critical during the pandemic but taking care of our health care workforce is essential as well. Our study will identify areas of stress that we can then plan to mitigate,” said Professor Jayne Fulkerson, PhD, who is co-PI with School of Public Health Associate Professor Ryan Demmer, PhD.

The study includes two sets of surveys. The first survey will focus on experiences of stress and burnout. The second survey will be administered bi-weekly with questions related to COVID-19, personal protective equipment and other questions about workplace environment. The study also includes an optional component that measures mobility patterns of health care professionals using a phone app.

The study received funding from of the Office of the Vice President for Research. In addition to the School of Nursing and the School of Public Health, the study includes research partners from Hennepin Healthcare, Fairview, the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute.