Finally in the news this week we take a look at musculoskeletal pain and hospital workers. Usually when we talk about health care worker’s pain we talk about lower back pain. Actually in this case the authors are just talking about general musculoskeletal pain. How do healthcare workers deal with normal aches and pains when they are working long hours.
Work is a Pain in the Neck
There is a study that looked at this from the George Washington University School of Public health. They found that there is a correlation between healthcare workers who are reporting work-family conflicts and reports of general musculoskeletal pain.
The study found that the work-family conflicts were related to long hours, working night shift, and work related stress. When work-family conflicts are increased, these healthcare workers also report more musculoskeletal pain: general pain, general aches, and general fatigue.
Nurse Burnout and Patient Outcomes
If these hospital employees are nurses and they’re experiencing pain and stress, we know from other studies that that all leads to poor patient outcomes. We talked last month about the University of Pennsylvania study that found that nurse burnout was directly related to hospital-based infection rates.
This is part of a bigger picture when you place it alongside hospitals preventing poor patient outcomes under their direct control. When our healthcare workers, nurses and other members of the hospital working community, are having stress related to their family-work relationship managers and supervisors need to pay attention. They must learn to watch out for warning signs of this conflict and take steps to help the employee work through them. When you make your workplace a better workplace, you have happier employees, higher patient satisfaction scores, and better patient outcomes.
Healthcare workers who reported a high level of stress were experiencing three times the amount musculoskeletal pain compared to those who had a relatively easy work-family relationship. This study is not related to lower back pain. They actually were able to work those people out of the study. We need to start pulling these little pieces of research together and realizing that when we have a happy hospital workforce we end up with happier patients and that’s really what it’s all about.
Find the links to this news item and all the additional resources from this episode of the Nursing Show here – Therapeutic Hypothermia Applied and Episode 213.