Can we ensure patients’ safety without taking care of healthcare workers?

(Zach Vessels, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Gabriele Montipó, a second-year medical student at the Universidade
Estadual do Oeste do Paraná, in Francisco Beltrão, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one

The relationship between workplace quality and health conditions is an increasingly discussed topic nowadays. Recent research shows that the work environment can be decisive as to the development and/or worsening of health problems, which in turn can impair the individual’s work performance, creating a vicious cycle. This seems to be a very common scenario, especially when it comes to the healthcare area.

In their daily work, health workers are exposed to physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial risk factors. These professions have very exhausting aspects, such as the requirement of great dedication of time, long working hours, lots of personal responsibilities and constant contact with the suffering of patients and family members. Excluding physical fatigue due to the long night shifts, these professionals have to overcome precarious working conditions, such as the lack of adequate instruments and safety issues. Other specific stressors are role conflict, lack of supervision, low remuneration, lack of recognition and constant pressure. Therefore, it is a complex and demanding work environment. Besides, some individuals even work in more than just one job. 

Consequently, these difficult situations translate into multiple and varied health problems, such as sleep disorders, muscle tension, tachycardia, headaches, among others. They can also provoke mental health conditions, such as depression and panic syndrome. The physical, cognitive and emotional overload can be unbearable for some professionals, generating stress and negatively affecting their quality of life, which can lead to abuse and dependence on psychoactive substances. In this scenario, the issue of Burnout stands out, a psychological syndrome caused by poor adaptation to a stressful, prolonged work with a high-tension load, that manifests itself through emotional exhaustion, an attitude of coldness and distance towards colleagues and patients, and feelings of incompetence. It also seems to affect significantly the younger professionals.

In addition, all these health symptoms can negatively interfere with the worker’s disposition and the quality of care that he provides to users, being an important factor leading to decreased efficiency and increased wear and error. Therefore, healthcare professionals must take proper care of their own physical and mental health, in order to better perform the important task of taking care of other people. Thus, the development of researches regarding the work processes and the quality of life of these professionals is essential to help the implementation of specific assistance programs, as health promotion and disease prevention actions. The support and protection of healthcare workers is fundamental in order to protect all the population they serve.


PAPARELLI, Renata; SATO, Leny; OLIVEIRA, Fábio de. A saúde mental relacionada ao trabalho e os desafios aos profissionais da saúde. Rev. bras. saúde ocup., São Paulo, v. 36, n. 123, p. 118-127,  June  2011.

TORRES, Albina Rodrigues et al. Qualidade de vida e saúde física e mental de médicos: uma autoavaliação por egressos da Faculdade de Medicina de Botucatu-UNESP. Revista Brasileira de Epidemiologia, v. 14, p. 264-275, 2011.

Rössler, W. Stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction in mental health workers. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 262, 65–69 (2012).

SANTOS, Ana Flávia de Oliveira; CARDOSO, Carmen Lúcia. Profissionais de saúde mental: manifestação de stress e burnout. Estud. psicol. (Campinas), Campinas, v. 27, n. 1, p. 67-74, Mar.  2010.

About the author

Gabriele Montipó is a second-year medical student at the Universidade
Estadual do Oeste do Paraná, in Francisco Beltrão, Brazil. She is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) and Local Director of the Standing Committee On Medical Education (SCOME). She has big hopes for the future, as to become a surgeon and one day be part of the Doctors Without Borders movement, helping to give medical care to those that most need it.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Roma integration: fight social exclusion, poverty and anti-gypsyism, MEPs demand

“Access denied”: the Greek health system under pressure

Concerned over Haiti’s political crisis, Guterres promises ‘continuous commitment’

Here’s how businesses can make the circular economy a reality

China, forever new adventures

Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Murdered Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi during World News Media Congress 2019

European Parliament speaks out against “killer robots”

Women-Friendly Spaces for Rohingya refugees: A place for protection and care

Energy: EU priority projects should be aligned with 2050 climate objectives

‘Wind blowing in the direction of peace’ in Africa: UN Secretary-General

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

THE COMMITTEES: ‘All roads lead to the Fifth’

Climate refugees – the world’s forgotten victims

Gaza probe finds ‘reasonable grounds’ Israeli forces committed international human rights violations

The Future of Retail: Changing shopping patterns will mean retailers need to invest in costly and complex solutions

Only international actions can settle the world’s ‘enormous and diverse cross-border challenges’, Qatar tells UN Assembly

Doing the right thing at the worst time: this is why protecting human rights protects businesses

How the pandemic has affected mental health in America

The impact of mobile and rapid digital adoption on how India consumes

State aid: Commission approves €286 million Finnish measure to recapitalise Finnair

AI can help with the COVID-19 crisis – but the right human input is key

Scenario of controversy needs and challenges for the COVID-19 vaccine

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Commitments Made to Reduce Black Carbon, Methane and HFCs

Hiring more female leaders is good for profits. Here’s the evidence

The European Union provides additional €17.2 million to support health systems in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan

What is ‘South-South cooperation’ and why does it matter?

Microplastics, microbeads and single-use plastics poisoning sea life and affecting humans, says UN Environment

Coronavirus: EU interoperability gateway goes live, first contact tracing and warning apps linked to the system

COVID – ACT III, When do I get off the stage?

Will the Greek economy ever come back to growth?

These are the world’s healthiest nations

EU plans to exploit the Mediterranean Sea and the wealth beneath it

Women in leadership: closing the gender gap in medicine

Commission proposes measures to boost data sharing and support European data spaces

Eurozone: Bank resolution proposal gains wider interest

Global economy faces gravest threat since the crisis as coronavirus spreads

Final turnout data for 2019 European elections announced

State aid: Commission invites comments on simplified rules for State aid combined with EU support

2021-2027 EU Budget: €378,1 billion to benefit all regions

Here’s how one business leader is tackling injustice: It starts with personal commitment

A net-zero world needs zero-carbon concrete. Here’s how to do it

The EU Parliament and the ECB unknowingly or unwillingly fail to protect our financial assets

Would you want to live to 150? Top quotes on what it means to grow old

Italy’s Letta: A European Banking Union soon or Eurozone collapses

Gender gap: This is how we can build an equal economic recovery

Here’s how your mental health depends on collective wellbeing

Working with millennials, leaders say humility works better than bossing around

These six intelligences will drive smart leadership in disrupted times

MEPs urge EU countries to be transparent about their COVID-19 vaccine supplies

Move over G7. The future belongs to a more inclusive G20

Tokyo Olympics postponed to 2021 over coronavirus concerns

Why the financial scandals multiply?

UN launches Facebook Messenger-powered bot to take on climate change

Mergers: Commission announces evaluation results and follow-up measures on jurisdictional and procedural aspects of EU merger control

Concorde is a reminder that the only way for innovation is up

The US repelled EU proposals on common rules for banks

Coronavirus Global Response: European Commission pledges €300 million to Gavi

Accountability in Sudan ‘crucial’ to avoid ‘further bloodshed’, says UN rights office

Do not take the EP’s consent on MFF for granted, says Budget Committee Chair

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s