Coronavirus: New Research Underway To Detect Stress And Burnout Among Nova Scotia Health Care Workers


As the new coronavirus pandemic sweeps across Nova Scotia, a team of researchers is developing a screening tool to identify burnout among healthcare workers tackling the crisis on the front lines.

This will likely take the form of an online survey or a survey app on a smartphone, the questions of which will help workers take their mental health “temperature” and put them in touch with support if they find themselves at risk of burnout.

Debra Gilin, an industrial and professional psychologist at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, is among the principal investigators of a new project that aims to reduce burnout among health care workers.

Debra Gilin, an industrial and professional psychologist at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, is one of the principal investigators in a new project that aims to reduce burnout among healthcare workers.

Elizabeth McSheffrey / World News

The idea, said lead researcher Debra Gilin, is to identify the problem early and stop it before it happens.

“It’s likely to be a marathon rather than a sprint in Nova Scotia,” said Saint Mary’s University professor of psychology. “People have to stay good and stay strong themselves.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia’s first wave of coronavirus is almost over, but province will not ease restrictions yet – Strang

The project is one of many new pandemic initiatives funded by the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Coalition, which includes the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), Research Nova Scotia and a handful of local universities and hospital foundations.

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Its researchers are now collecting data on burnout from health workers, with the aim of developing a series of questions that will accurately predict high burnout.

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This will help employers and employees find the support they need to take care of themselves, said Gilin.

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“We want to preserve these important frontline workers, their well-being, the well-being of their families,” she told Global News.

“So they often ask questions like how often you can’t sleep, how often you can’t turn off your mind at the end of the work day, how nervous, nervous, anxious you feel – or the opposite side, that is to say that you feel a weak energy and that you find it difficult to get up to get things done. “

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Nova Scotia is nearing the end of its first wave of COVID-19, but the pressure on healthcare workers will continue for months.

Not only do they deal with the virus itself, said Colin Stevenson of the NSHA, but also with the weight of the recent tragedies which struck Nova Scotia.

“When we think this is the starting point,” he said, “we have many situations where we have presented our staff with perhaps a new place of work, a new job that they have to do, because they have been moved or moved to help support a particular care environment for COVID. … All of these changes in work situations, we recognize, can be extremely demanding. “

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Since the start of the pandemic, the NSHA has extended its mental health support to staff, publishing a weekly newsletter of available resources, including workshops on resilience and bereavement sessions.

He also launched a new program that helps workers cope with their individual challenges during the crisis, one-on-one or in groups.

Stevenson, vice president of health, quality and system performance, said the NSHA acted early to avoid burnout among staff by canceling many of its services and redirecting these workers to assist in the response to the pandemic.

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He said he would welcome any new tool to further support them.

“There is always a stigma associated with accessing mental health services and it is only really by talking about our own experiences, promoting it and providing easy access in many ways for people to access to that we hope we will encourage and support our staff to do more of this. “

The new burnout screening tool, called “COVID Pulse”, is expected to be available to employers and staff by June.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you should know:

Health authorities warn against all international travel. Returning travelers are legally required to isolate themselves for 14 days, beginning on March 26, in case they develop symptoms and prevent the spread of the virus to other people. Some provinces and territories have also implemented recommendations or additional enforcement measures to ensure the self-isolation of people returning to the region.

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Symptoms may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or the flu. Some people may develop a more serious illness. Those most at risk are the elderly and those with serious chronic conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend washing your hands frequently and coughing up your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying at home as much as possible, and keeping two meters away from others if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage by Global News, click here.

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