UK healthcare workers born in the UK are significantly more likely to report having multiple long-term health conditions than migrant UK healthcare workers, according to a study published in BMC Medicine.
The results could be used to improve support programmes for healthcare workers, which could lead to improved healthcare quality across the UK.
Previous research has found associations between the health of healthcare workers and levels of patient care, safety, and satisfaction. However, little is known about the prevalence of multiple long-term health conditions in healthcare workers in the UK.
Professor Manish Pareek (pictured below) and colleagues analysed data from 12,100 UK healthcare workers, recruited for the UK-REACH study between December 2020 and March 2021, to investigate the relationship between healthcare workers’ reported long-term health conditions and their ethnicity and migration status.
After adjusting for sociodemographic, health, and lifestyle factors, the authors found that white, UK-born healthcare workers were more likely to report multiple long-term health conditions than those from most other ethnic and migrant groups. In particular, healthcare workers born overseas were generally less likely than UK-born healthcare workers to report multiple long-term health conditions. White UK-born healthcare workers were also significantly more likely to report anxiety or depression than most other groups.
Finally, the authors found that, although migrant healthcare workers were less likely to report multiple long-term health conditions overall, their likelihood of reporting multiple long-term health conditions increased if they had lived in the UK for a long time. Migrants who had lived in the UK for 20 or more years were approximately as likely to report multiple long-term health conditions as UK-born healthcare workers, after adjusting for ethnicity.
Professor Manish Pareek from the University’s Department of Respiratory Sciences and Chair in Infectious Diseases at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, and chief investigator for the UK-REACH study, said:
“Our findings suggest that the pattern and prevalence of common LTCs in UK HCWs is associated with ethnicity and migration status. Those from the White UK-born population may be at higher risk of mental health problems than those from other ethnic and migrant groups and those from particular minority ethnic and migrant groups may be at higher risk of diabetes and high blood pressure than White healthcare workers born in the UK.”
He added: “Continual monitoring of risk factors on health outcomes is necessary with linkage to healthcare records and should collect information on both ethnicity and migration status so that interventions can be co-developed with HCWs from different ethnic and migrant groups. This will help to reduce the overall burden of long-term health conditions.
“In addition, optional organisational periodic health assessments could be considered to monitor the health of healthcare workers. Results of assessments could be fed back to each person, and bespoke support, reflective of their unique identity, could be provided to help modify individual health risks. Such personalised interventions would benefit not only individual healthcare workers but also healthcare organisations and the UK patient population as a whole.”
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