COVID-19 impacts on Yukon healthcare workers 

healthcare workers

YukonU’s Research Chair in Health has released results on the Impacts of COVID-19 on Yukon’s frontline healthcare workers. This study found high burnout rates, a desire to be involved in future planning for pandemics or health emergencies, and other key findings unique to the Yukon. 

Dr. Liris Smith, Research Chair in Health, and her team surveyed and interviewed nurses and physicians over the last year and found that while burnout rates were highest in the personal and work lives of research participants, patient-related burnout was low. The highest rates of burnout were with women, and nurses reported higher rates of burnout than doctors. Results indicate that female healthcare workers faced higher demands from their families during the pandemic, with pressures related to children and other relationships. 
“COVID-19 shone a light on systemic issues in Yukon healthcare, like a lack of resources and support for frontline workers, creating a strong desire for healthcare workers to be involved in future planning”, said Dr. Liris Smith, Research Chair in Health, Yukon University. “Understanding the impacts of the pandemic through research projects like this can help partners look at creative solutions to the challenges that face the health care system now, and in the future". 

Yukon healthcare workers were able to replace group leisure activities with outside activities more easily than workers in other jurisdictions, which might explain why Yukon experienced less patient-related burnout. 

Moral distress and emotional burden were reported as a result of enforcing COVID-19 policies, and this compromised quality of care due to isolation and infection control measures. Communication and changing covid rules and measures affected all areas of worklife and presented challenges related to timeliness, transparency and consistency. 

This research paper has been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Arctic Yearbook and is now available to the public. Dr. Smith and Yukon University co-authors, Dr. Michelle Leach and Mark Christopher, are working with their partners on a second publication that will describe the personal experiences of nurses and physicians based on in-depth interviews over the past year.  

“This research helps us understand some of the complex impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare workers in our territory and will be useful in helping inform responses to other impactful events,” said Dr. Bronwyn Hancock, Vice-Provost, Academic and Research, Yukon University. YukonU is grateful to our research partners, who were an important part of this project and are helping the university inform conversations related to issues of northern relevance. 

This research was made possible through partnerships with the Yukon Medical Association,  
Yukon Registered Nurses Association, Yukon Licensed Practical Nurses Association, Two People With Lived Experience, and Yukon Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (funded by Canadian Institute of Health Research and Government of Yukon’s Department of Health and Social Services). 

For more information, please contact

Dr. Liris Smith

Research Chair, Health Research, SPOR Support Unit

SPOR, Health Research
YukonU Research Centre