Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Qualitative interview study of strategies to support healthcare personnel mental health through an occupational health lens.

Brown-Johnson C, DeShields C, McCaa M, Connell N, Giannitrapani SN, Thanassi W, Yano EM, Singer SJ, Lorenz KA, Giannitrapani K. Qualitative interview study of strategies to support healthcare personnel mental health through an occupational health lens. BMJ open. 2024 Jan 11; 14(1):e075920.

Related HSR&D Project(s)

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: Employee Occupational Health ('occupational health') clinicians have expansive perspectives of the experience of healthcare personnel. Integrating mental health into the purview of occupational health is a newer approach that could combat historical limitations of healthcare personnel mental health programmes, which have been isolated and underused. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to document innovation and opportunities for supporting healthcare personnel mental health through occupational health clinicians. This work was part of a national qualitative needs assessment of employee occupational health clinicians during COVID-19 who were very much at the centre of organisational responses. DESIGN: This qualitative needs assessment included key informant interviews obtained using snowball sampling methods. PARTICIPANTS: We interviewed 43 US Veterans Health Administration occupational health clinicians from 29 facilities. APPROACH: This analysis focused on personnel mental health needs and opportunities, using consensus coding of interview transcripts and modified member checking. KEY RESULTS: Three major opportunities to support mental health through occupational health involved: (1) expanded mental health needs of healthcare personnel, including opportunities to support work-related concerns (eg, traumatic deployments), home-based concerns and bereavement (eg, working with chaplains); (2) leveraging expanded roles and protocols to address healthcare personnel mental health concerns, including opportunities in expanding occupational health roles, cross-disciplinary partnerships (eg, with employee assistance programmes (EAP)) and process/protocol (eg, acute suicidal ideation pathways) and (3) need for supporting occupational health clinicians' own mental health, including opportunities to address overwork/burn-out with adequate staffing/resources. CONCLUSIONS: Occupational health can enact strategies to support personnel mental health: to structurally sustain attention, use social cognition tools (eg, suicidality protocols or expanded job descriptions); to leverage distributed attention, enhance interdisciplinary collaboration (eg, chaplains for bereavement support or EAP) and to equip systems with resources and allow for flexibility during crises, including increased staffing.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.