Workplace-based organizational interventions promoting mental health and happiness among healthcare workers: A realist review

Patricia Gray, Sipho Senabe, Nisha Naicker, Spo Kgalamono, Annalee Yassi, Jerry M. Spiegel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

150 Citations (Scopus)


Mental illness, deemed globally to account for 32% of years lived with a disability, generates significant impacts on workplaces. In particular, healthcare workers experience high rates of mental ill health such as burnout, stress, and depression due to workplace conditions including excessive workloads, workplace violence and bullying, which also produces negative effects on patients as well as on the happiness and wellbeing of those who remain at work. This review was undertaken to synthesize the evidence on workplace-based interventions at the organizational level promoting mental health and wellbeing among healthcare workers, to identify what has been receiving attention in this area and why, especially considering how such positive effects are produced. A search of three premier health-related databases identified 1290 articles that discussed healthcare workers, workplace interventions, and mental health. Following further examination, 46 articles were ultimately selected as meeting the criteria specifying interventions at the organizational level and combined with similar studies included in a relevant Cochrane review. The 60 chosen articles were then analyzed following a realist framework analyzing context, mechanism, and outcome. Most of the studies included in the realist review were conducted in high-income countries, and the types of organizational-level interventions studied included skills and knowledge development, leadership development, communication and team building, stress management as well as workload and time management. Common themes from the realist review highlight the importance of employee engagement in the intervention development and implementation process. The literature review also supports the recognized need for more research on mental health and happiness in low-and middle-income countries, and for studies evaluating the longer-term effects of workplace mental health promotion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4396
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019


  • Healthcare workers
  • Mental health
  • Mental health promotion
  • Occupational mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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