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For health care worker exhaustion, the prognosis remains grim

In May, KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk described the emotional distress wearing down health care workers and hindering efforts to bounce back after COVID-19.

New research in the journal JAMA Network Open gives a glimpse of how those workers are faring.

A three-year survey of more than 107,000 health care workers shows increased emotional exhaustion in respondents and their colleagues, overall and across every role.

Among the 76 community hospitals surveyed, nurses said fatigue worsened each year, while physicians felt it declined in 2020, then rose sharply 2021.

The authors say emotional exhaustion, which already plagued health care workers before the pandemic, has grown worse and could jeopardize care quality unless resources for well-being are made larger and more accessible.

They add that drop-offs in workforce and motivation pose substantial challenges to doing so.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.