Health issues in the healthcare profession

Healthcare professionals and care workers are exposed to high physical and mental workloads. A collaborative project is investigating the relationships between workload and health problems in the healthcare professions in Switzerland.


According to surveys from neighbouring countries, healthcare professionals and care workers are subject to particularly high levels of physical and mental stress. It is therefore not surprising that records show the rate of staff turnover and absence in the healthcare professions to be higher than the average. One example of this is documented in the 2004 German absence report, focusing on the subject of “Health management in hospitals and care institutions”. Other examples are provided by the Austrian health monitor, which has been conducted every year since 2009. Two key American health authorities, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), also find higher levels of substance abuse, suicide and various stress-related illnesses, such as depression, anxiety disorders, burnout or absence caused by illness.

They recommend various occupational and other measures to avoid the problem of higher levels of stress in healthcare professions. Professionals employed in healthcare are also involved more frequently than other professional groups in the care of their sick, disabled or elderly relatives. These are the findings of organisational surveys conducted by Careum Research and international research literature.


The organisational survey on working conditions and health problems aims to provide knowledge about the relationships between health problems and workload amongst healthcare professionals and care workers. The issue of reconciling the ability to work with caring for relatives (“work & care”) plays a particularly key role in this study.

The aim is to enable solution proposals to be developed for socio-political and (cross-)operational intervention and prevention measures. The project undertaken with the cooperation of the Institute for Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention at the University of Zurich sheds light on and raises awareness of the issue of increased workloads and health problems in healthcare. It highlights the efforts of the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (Suva) to reduce or even avoid work-related health problems.

Aims of the survey:

  • Initial and extensive survey of working conditions, workload, health and health problems in care and healthcare professions.
  • Individual and professional group-specific needs of care workers and health professionals are established. How can particular working conditions and health be improved?
  • What insights can be gained for policy and organisations by a comparative analysis of workloads and associated health problems, aspirations for professional advancement, intentions to give notice and absences from work?


Project team

UZH, Institute for Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention: PD Dr. Oliver Hämmig, MPH (Lead), Nadine Häusler MSc Public Health (Scientific Staff)
Careum Research: Prof. Dr. Iren Bischofberger (Programme Manager “work & care”), Anke Jähnke RN, M.A., MPH (Research Assistant)

Financial support