NewsStudy highlights challenges to women's well-being in healthcare

Study highlights challenges to women’s well-being in healthcare

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In the two decades since 2000, the full-time healthcare workforce has nearly doubled, with women constituting a substantial portion of this growth, playing a pivotal role in the effective delivery of healthcare services. Consequently, understanding the factors contributing to the well-being of women in this demanding sector has become crucial.

The multifaceted roles women play in society often subject them to significant pressure, balancing success both at home and in the workplace. This strain can lead to detrimental consequences such as occupational burnout, psychological distress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Within the healthcare sector, these adversities can result in a loss of patient trust, non-compliance with treatment protocols, and a decline in the overall quality of care. Hence, it is imperative to ensure that female healthcare professionals receive the necessary support.

Study Overview

The present study undertook an extensive review, encompassing 71 studies conducted in 26 countries from 1979 to 2022. The subjects comprised adult female healthcare professionals aged 18 to 74, including mental healthcare providers, clinical social workers, nurses, and physicians. The investigation focused on various well-being factors such as resilience, wellness, burnout, stress, and quality of life (QOL). Notably, the study embraced individuals who identified as women, regardless of their assigned sex at birth.

Key Findings

This comprehensive analysis scrutinized diverse study designs exploring the well-being of female professionals in healthcare across different nations and social contexts. While previous research often defined well-being narrowly, associating it merely with being disease-free or lacking work dissatisfaction, the current study broadened the perspective to encompass happiness, security, and comfort.

A substantial portion (25%) of the reviewed studies revealed that poor work-life balance negatively correlated with well-being. Women were frequently advised to prioritize domestic responsibilities over professional development, impacting their overall sense of well-being.

Approximately 25% of the studies highlighted that limited professional autonomy and subpar working conditions increased the rate of burnout among women compared to their male counterparts. However, a supportive work environment and flexible schedules were associated with lower burnout rates.

Furthermore, personal relationships, including familial ties, romantic partnerships, and friendships, were identified in 20% of the studies as positive influencers on well-being. Environmental factors and individual experiences were also acknowledged as crucial determinants.

Implicit gender bias emerged as a significant source of mental distress in 16% of the studies, manifesting in unequal pay, restricted advancement opportunities, and a lack of acknowledgment through professional titles.

Studies emphasizing intentional mindfulness, exercise, sleep, and nutrition demonstrated a positive association with well-being, offering potential avenues for reducing stress, compassion fatigue, and burnout.

Engaging in mentoring and professional development opportunities showed a positive impact in 11% of the reviewed articles, fostering a deeper connection with colleagues and enhancing job satisfaction.

Conclusions

This review delves into the well-being of female professionals in the healthcare sector, uncovering correlations between well-being and work-related stressors. The identified factors contributing to emotional turmoil and job dissatisfaction underscore the potential ramifications for both individuals and the quality of patient care.

The study advocates for future research exploring gender-sensitive interventions and urges the implementation of proactive measures, including educational workshops, mindfulness practices, and institutional policies, to comprehensively address the well-being of women in the healthcare workforce. Moreover, the definition of well-being should evolve to encompass both physical and mental health, including aspects like a sense of purpose, life satisfaction, and stress management capabilities.

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