Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 5(3) March 2002 : 70-78.doi:10.12927/hcq.2002.16759
Nursing Issues

A Collaborative Evidence-Based Approach To Making Healthcare a Healthier Place to Work

A. Yassi, A.S. Ostry, J. Spiegel, G. Walsh and H.M. de Boer


Difficulties in recruitment and retention, high rates of work injuries, illnesses and absences from work, and escalating costs plague Canada's healthcare system. The well-being of the healthcare workforce merits serious consideration by healthcare decision-makers.

It is increasingly well documented that a collaborative problem-solving approach is more effective in addressing workplace health concerns than an adversarial approach. Combining this with strategies based on good evidence is key to success. On this premise, a trial was conducted in British Columbia, beginning in July 1999, based on a collaborative approach in which healthcare workers and managers work together to identify and implement evidence-based initiatives to improve the health and working conditions of healthcare workers. A province-wide needs assessment was conducted, world literature was reviewed, focus groups were held with the various stakeholders, and direct input was sought from researchers as well as local practitioners. Cost-benefit analyses were conducted and key decision-makers brought together to reach agreements.

"Best practice" guidelines were therefore developed on patient handling, complete with a training program and funding agreements to obtain the capital equipment needed. An innovative best practice program was also developed to promote early and safe return-to-work for injured hospital workers. Other evidence-based pilot programs are being developed, implemented and evaluated.

Results to date illustrate that a collaborative evidence-based approach, where all parties work together in the face of challenge, is the way forward in addressing the occupational health needs of the healthcare workforce.



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