In 2019, Johnson & Johnson launched the Center for Health Worker Innovation (the Center) to catalyze efforts to respond to the human resource crisis in global health and build a thriving health workforce. Shortly after the Center’s founding, the entire world would come to recognize the role of frontline health workers as the COVID-19 pandemic tested global health systems and health workers in ways unseen in our lifetimes.
Against a background of already fragile or broken health systems, COVID-19 has pushed many frontline health workers—particularly those in lower-resourced settings—to the point of burnout. Today, as an increased number of health workers leave the profession due to burnout, it exacerbates the 2030 projected health worker shortage gap. For those who remain working while exhibiting symptoms of burnout, evidence shows increased medical errors and lower quality of care for patients.
Alongside efforts to address long-term system challenges and reduce stressors (like ensuring adequate access to PPE, workload reduction, and many others), it’s clear there is an opportunity to additionally support health workers’ ability to cope with and manage workplace stress.
The good news is that resilience is not innate—it is an acquired response to stress that can be learned. Through many of our partners, we’ve seen that programs that provide health workers with techniques to improve their resilience and overall well-being can be an important resource as the global health community and individual organizations also work to address other short and long-term systemic challenges.
The evidence, the stories from the field, and what we’ve all borne witness to over this past year and a half, are what compelled the Center to stand-up The Resilience Collaborative, a global learning community that aims to advance learning and drive adoption of evidence-based strategies for health worker resilience, particularly in low-resource settings.
There are inherent tensions in this space that should be acknowledged. Advocating for resilience-boosting interventions could be seen, or worse, deployed as yet another task assigned to health workers—an added responsibility they must take on when many of the experiences, stresses and traumas of their day-to-day work stem from systemic failures well beyond their control, and chronic under-investment in the health workforce.
But despite this concern, we have heard from partners and organizations all over the world that their health workers want tools and resources to help them cope with and manage stress while their employer and government also work to remove stressors where possible and work on complex and long-term systemic challenges.
After seeing the same 5 key behaviors (stress management, mindfulness & relaxation, self-care, connecting to purpose, and connecting to others) appear across 200 plus pieces of literature and evidence that carefully and thoughtfully designed interventions can produce behavior change and an increase in resilience that holds across time and in a multitude of settings, we knew we wanted to dig deeper into this space. At The Resilience Collaborative, we are convening a group of advocates and implementers with the absolute belief that such interventions must appear alongside meaningful and urgent efforts by health system leaders.
Join us today. Learn more about The Resilience Collaborative, and consider joining our community of practice. You can also access two key resources The Collaborative has released, after months of co-creation and iteration with partners:
- A toolkit which consolidates existing evidence, best practices, guidelines, and frameworks
- An evidence-based, free, and adaptable 6-month messaging program
The Center’s work is rooted in addressing the needs of health workers and the communities they care for each day. We believe there has never been a more critical time to prioritize our frontline health workers, supporting them in developing a greater sense of well-being, and building a culture that values resilience throughout health systems around the world.