Integrating staff well-being into the Primary Health Care system: a case study in post-conflict Kosovo
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Integrating staff well-being into the Primary Health Care system: a case study in post-conflict Kosovo

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  • Alternative Title:
    Confl Health
  • Description:

    Staff well-being including stress awareness and stress management skills is usually not a priority in (mental) health policies. In Kosovo, the level of stress amongst primary health care (PHC) professionals is high because health professionals are part of the population seriously affected by conflict. The need to support staff and look after their well-being was recognised by the Director of the Centre for Development of Family Medicine, Head of Primary Care. In response, the Antares Foundation and the Kosovo Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (KRCT), in close cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, implemented an integrated psycho-social capacity building programme for PHC professionals.


    This case-study describes how staff well-being was integrated into the PHC system in Kosovo. This was accomplished through raising awareness on staff well-being and stress management as well as strengthening knowledge of and skills in stress management. Eighteen national PHC staff were trained and more than a thousand family doctors and nurses attended stress management workshops. A steering committee consisting of key stakeholders was responsible for overseeing the execution of the programme. This steering committee successfully advocated for integration of staff well-being and stress management in the revised mental health strategy 2014–2020. The curriculum developed for the training was integrated in the professional staff development programme for family doctors and nurses. The effectiveness of the programme was assessed through an evaluation (including a survey among PHC professionals trained under the programme).


    Evaluation findings showed that offering structured support, entailing the opportunity to discuss work related problems and providing tools to deal with stress related to work or personal life, helps staff to continue their professional tasks under challenging conditions. Evaluation findings suggest that results can be sustained through an integrated approach and involvement of key stakeholders. The case study may be of interest to policy makers involved in health reform processes and for managers implementing changes in complicated post conflict contexts. For both groups, acknowledgment of staff well-being could be a key ingredient in the motivation of staff and the quality of services.

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