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€4 Million Grant to Improve Mental Health and Well-being of Health Professionals and Patient Safety

The largest initiative to improve hospital work environments to date has officially begun, with an award of 4 million Euros from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program. The grant will support the international partnership of some of the world’s leading Universities led by KU Leuven and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.

The aim of the initiative is to redesign hospital workplaces to improve the mental health and well-being of nurses and physicians and to improve patient safety.  This initiative begins in January 2020, aligning with 2020 being the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife as designated by the World Health Organization.

The U.S. National Academy of Medicine has prioritized enhancing health professionals’ mental health and wellbeing as a public health goal. Burnout, depression, and fatigue are far too common among nurses and physicians in fast paced hospital settings, and suicide rates are alarming. Patient safety depends upon vigilance, quick thinking, and intense attention to detail by health professionals which is made more difficult by stressful work settings.

“Hospitalized patients can only be assured safe and effective care when their nurses and physicians are able to perform at their best,” says Linda Aiken, PhD, Professor and Director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, and co-lead on Magnet4Europe, “and this requires healthy work environments.”

Magnet4Europe will implement an evidence-based intervention based on the successful Magnet Recognition Program®, a voluntary hospital designation for nursing care excellence by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Countless studies have shown that Magnet-recognized hospitals have lower health professional burnout and safer patient care. Sixty hospitals in five European countries (Belgium, England, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden) will receive a full-blown redesign of their workplaces– supported by one to one twinning with an experienced Magnet recognized hospital and an annual learning collaborative. A rigorous research evaluation will determine the success of the initiative. 

“Our research points to specific features of complex organizations,” adds Dr. Walter Sermeus, European coordinator of the initiative at KU Leuven, “that if modified can significantly improve the wellbeing of health professionals and patients alike. Magnet4Europe will translate these research findings into practice to expedite much needed workplace redesign in hospitals and other healthcare settings.”

There are currently 502 Magnet Recognized hospitals in 8 countries, with most located in the US. Only one hospital in Europe has achieved Magnet recognition. This initiative will test the feasibility and sustainability of the Magnet Model® for organizational redesign in the context of health care in Europe.