Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces

Long Lives Healthy Workplaces Web

Improving the mental health and wellbeing of anaesthetists

Background

The Welfare of Anaesthetists special interest group (SIG) is leading Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces, supported by a project team at Everymind. In 2017, the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) funded Everymind to work with anaesthetists to develop an evidence-based toolkit to support good mental health and prevent mental ill-health and suicidal behaviour amongst anaesthetists and anaesthetic trainees. This is not only important for the individuals concerned, but also for the quality and safety of care provided for patients and families.

Long Lives, Healthy Workplaces provides an opportunity to:

  • Develop an evidence-based framework building on existing projects and research in Australia and internationally
  • Develop a toolkit that can be used by anaesthetic departments to: ­
    - plan responses to staff and peer mental ill-heath or suicidal behaviour; and ­ 
    - develop local resources for the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental ill-health and suicide
  • Test the feasibility of the toolkit in an anaesthetic department.

This project is overseen by a steering committee led by Dr Tracey Tay (Specialist Anaesthetist and Director, Perioperative Service at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle) and the following anaesthetists from around Australia: Prani Shrivastava (Specialist Anaesthetist, WA), Dr Suzi Nou (Specialist Anaesthetist, VIC), Dr Jane McDonald (Specialist Anaesthetist, NSW), Dr Greg Downey (Specialist Anaesthetist, NSW), Dr Shirley Prager (Psychiatrist, VIC), and Dr Marion Andrew (Specialist Anaesthetist, WA). Other members of the committee include Jaelea Skehan (Director, Everymind) and Sally Fitzpatrick (Project Lead, Everymind).

The project links with other federally funded research co-led by Everymind to tackle mental ill-health among doctors and medical students.

Progression of the project

  • The toolkit is in final stages of development and brings together the best available evidence for what works to prevent and respond to mental ill-health and suicide, and makes suggestions for how this may be applied to anaesthetic departments.
  • The toolkit has been informed by research, policy and consultation with 36 anaesthetists through either focus groups or individual interviews.
  • The project and draft concepts for the toolkit have been presented to delegates at the Australian Society of Anaesthetists meeting at the 14th Annual Combined Communication, Education, Welfare, Leadership and Management SIG meeting in October 2017.
  • An outline of the toolkit was presented at the ANZCA Doctor’s Health and Wellbeing Workshop 19 February 2018, with positive feedback.
  • Feasibility of the toolkit will be evaluated with key members of the anaesthetic department at John Hunter Hospital during May 2018.

If you would like to find out more about the project, please email tracey.tay@health.nsw.gov.au or Dr Sally Fitzpatrick.