The impact on increasing workloads on allied health. What are they and what can be done?

Ms Janice Mc Keever1

1Monash Health, Australia

 

Aim: Health workers are experiencing increasing workloads and task demands with the ageing population and a rise in chronic diseases. It is widely recognised that increasing work load and task demands contributes to feelings of stress and ill health. However, despite the anecdotal reports that Allied Health professionals (AHP) experience similar ill effects, the evidence base for this important workforce is lacking.

 

Method: A rapid review of the literature was conducted to investigate workload issues in Allied Health. The aim was to identify key outcomes of increasing workloads and to identify strategies to buffer the negative impact of workloads on AHP.

Results: Literature identified a number of ill effects of increasing workloads on AHP such as burnout, attrition, depression and stress. There were no common professional groups, work areas or caseloads that experienced these more than others. The literature available on workload in Allied Health were descriptive pieces with no investigative studies on methods to moderate the impact of rising workload. However there is consensus around possible solutions such as reward and recognition systems, support structures and enabling control over workload that can protect staff from feelings of stress and burnout. These could easily be implemented for the AHPs.

 

Significance of findings to allied health:  It is clear from the evidence that the strains of system is negatively impacting on staff. The causes of increased workload are multiple, as are the solutions. However, prudent management practices and union bargaining can have positive effects for the employee and the system. It is imperative that efforts to address the harmful psychosocial working conditions are implemented.