American Healthcare Workers Persevering, but Remain Stressed

New USA Today-Ipsos survey of healthcare workers finds one in three thinks the system is on the verge of collapse

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, February 22, 2022 – New USA Today-Ipsos research finds that workers in the American healthcare sector are resilient in the face of two years of the pandemic. However, this survey also finds numerous warning signs of the ongoing strain these workers are experiencing, with half reporting they are burned out and almost a quarter thinking about leaving the field in the near future. Additionally, optimism among these workers has declined relative to Spring 2021 – as the vaccine was rolling out – as people in the healthcare field widely disapprove of how the rest of the country has handled the pandemic.

The large majority of healthcare workers report being satisfied with their jobs, only slightly down from findings in a Spring 2021 KFF/WP poll.

  • Four in five (80%) of healthcare workers report being somewhat or very satisfied with their current job, down slightly from the 89% saying the same in a Spring 2021 Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post poll.
  • Three quarters (73%) agree with the statement “I love working in healthcare”.
  • A majority report feeling “hopeful” (59%), “motivated” (59%), or “optimistic” (56%) about going to work. However, the number saying hopeful (to 59% from 76%) or optimistic (to 56% from 67%) is down compared to last year.

However, there are warning signs about the resiliency of workers in the healthcare sector after two years of the pandemic.

  • About half (52%) report feeling “burned out”, on par with the 2021 numbers (55%).
  • Over a third (39%) report agreeing with the statement “the American healthcare system is on the verge of collapse”.
  • A third either disagree (16%) or don’t know how they feel (18%) regarding if they could pick a career over again, “I would still decide to go into health care”.
  • A quarter of healthcare workers (23%) say they are likely to leave the field in the near future.

Americans working in the healthcare sector are skeptical – if not outright critical – of the nation’s handling of the pandemic.

  • Only one in five (21%) of healthcare workers say that the pandemic is mostly or completely under control.
  • Almost two-thirds (61%) do not think Americans are taking enough precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Healthcare workers are slightly positive on the CDC (54% approve, 34% disapprove), divided on the Biden Administration (41% approve, 40% disapprove), and critical of the news media (20% approve, 61% disapprove) and the American public (18% approve, 68% disapprove).
  • However, healthcare workers are broadly supportive of efforts to support public health and the healthcare sector including providing N95 masks (85% support) or COVID tests (83% support).

A majority of healthcare workers have had direct experience caring for a COVID-19 positive patient.

  • Two-thirds (66%) of healthcare workers have treated a COVID-19 patient. That number climbs to 84% among nurses and 86% among workers in hospital settings.
    • Of those, almost half (47%) report having a patient who died of COVID-19, over half among nurses (53%) and in hospital settings (55%).
  • Of those, 81% report treating unvaccinated patients (or 53% of all healthcare workers).
    • Among healthcare workers who have treated unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, two-thirds (67%) report their patients continued to express skepticism towards the vaccine while over a third (38%) report that patients expressed regret for not getting the vaccine.
    • Additionally, a quarter (26%) of healthcare workers who have treated unvaccinated patients report their patients asking for unproven COVID treatments, and a third (30%) report that the patient or family criticized the care they received.

Thank you to the Kaiser Family Foundation for access to their 2021 health care worker survey. That data can be found here (

Topline data can be found on

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 9-16, 2022 by using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,170 healthcare workers ages 18 or older.

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of healthcare workers. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.72. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on other sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel®, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs an addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel® cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, and healthcare worker category. The demographic benchmarks for healthcare workers came from the 2021 March supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) based on the current occupation variable in the CPS. The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–34, 35-44, 45-59 and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (Some College or below, Bachelor, Master and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, Non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $50,000, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Healthcare Worker Category (Nurse, Physician or equivalent, Other Healthcare Worker)

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Senior Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third-largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts, and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions, and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers, or employees. We serve more than 5,000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs