09 June 2020
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New research into the health of Australia’s health practitioners aims to support the wellbeing of healthcare workers and protect patients from harm. The research – led by Associate Professor Marie Bismark - received over $1 million dollars in the latest of round National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grants.

A/Professor Marie Bismark is a consultation liaison psychiatry registrar with Melbourne Health, and leads a research team at the University of Melbourne. Her research will be the first in the world to analyse clinician health across all fifteen registered health professions, using data on over 700,000 health practitioners.

The project will explore why health practitioners in Australia have higher rates of burnout, depression, and suicide than other occupations. The research will consider a range of pressures on clinicians including extended work hours, misunderstandings of mandatory reporting, and the impact of the pandemic. A/Prof Bismark will also explore factors that support clinicians to thrive.

“The health sector urgently needs tools to identify which professions, roles, and organisations have the best and worst clinician health and the ability to measure which initiatives make a difference,” A/prof Bismark said.

Previous research on clinician health has focused heavily on doctors. This research will be the first in the world to consider the health of all registered health professions, including nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists. The hope is that the research will lead to a toolkit of measures and resources, tailored for the Australian context, and suitable for national use.

A/Prof Bismark hopes that the research will contribute to positive change in the working lives of clinicians in all health professions.

“We hope that our findings will support change in the healthcare sector, so that clinicians with early signs of burnout or ill health are able to receive support tailored to their individual needs and practice setting,” A/Prof Bismark said.

Part of the research involves confidential interviews with nurses, doctors, and physiotherapists with up to five years of clinical experience. These interviews will help to build a better understanding of the impact of compassionate clinical leadership on the wellbeing of health practitioners. If you have less than five years clinical experience and are interested in participating in an interview, or would like to know more about the research, please email marie.bismark@mh.org.au

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