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Shining a light on an additional clinical burden: work-related digital communication survey study – COVID-19 impact on NHS staff wellbeing

Bakhai, Ameet; McCauley, Leah; Stones, Liba; Khalil, Saria; Mehta, Jay; Price, Nicola; Krishnamurthy, Vinodh; ... Hughes, Derralynn; + view all (2022) Shining a light on an additional clinical burden: work-related digital communication survey study – COVID-19 impact on NHS staff wellbeing. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications , 9 , Article 414. 10.1057/s41599-022-01427-7. Green open access

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Abstract

Work-related communication volume within the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) has had little systematic research previously. The impact of communication volume on work-life balance of healthcare staff in the NHS is also not known and has not been an area of focus or governance. COVID-19 led to a shift to non-physical work, with greater reliance on digital communication for clinical decision making. We sought to elucidate the relationship between communication, work-life balance, and COVID-19. An online survey was conducted to assess the platforms used to communicate professionally, the volume of and time spent on work-related communications, how this has changed from before to during COVID-19, and the effect on work-life balance. A total of 3047 healthcare staff provided consent and evaluable data. Emails were reported as the most frequently used communication tool, and the majority of staff asked, reported increased work-related communications due to COVID-19. Staff estimated receiving 14 emails on an average day before COVID-19. During the pandemic, staff estimated getting approximately 17 emails on an average day and 29 emails on a busy day. Work communications reportedly took up increased amounts of family and home time during COVID-19. A large proportion (36%) of staff were unable to switch off from work-related communications already before COVID-19, worsening (57%) during the pandemic. Work-related digital communication is a vital component of working in the NHS. We provide the first detailed data on the types, volume, and impact of such communication on NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to pre-pandemic levels. We found that 82% of staff support the need for NHS guidance on work-related communications to help manage overload, protect emotional wellbeing, and increase resilience. Further work is urgently needed in this area to tackle the negative impact of communication technologies (technostress) on work-life balance to reduce staff stress, burnout, and turnover or early retirement of some staff.

Type: Article
Title: Shining a light on an additional clinical burden: work-related digital communication survey study – COVID-19 impact on NHS staff wellbeing
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1057/s41599-022-01427-7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-022-01427-7
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Health humanities, Science, technology and society, Social policy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Cancer Institute > Research Department of Haematology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10173874
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