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Implementing the National Standard in the Canadian Health Sector


This cross-case analysis examines progress in implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) by healthcare sector organizations, compared to a case control group of non-healthcare organizations. It is based upon data from the Case Study Research Project, a three-year formative evaluation of 41 Canadian organizations implementing the Standard. The largest number of participating organizations fall within the healthcare sector. This analysis is informed by qualitative data from the HealthCareCAN/Mental Health Commission of Canada Roundtable, which brought together national healthcare leaders in a conversation about implementing the Standard. Two primary questions are addressed: (i) whether there are unique features of healthcare sector organizations in regard to implementation of the Standard; (ii) whether interim project results support the development of implementation tools or resources customized for the healthcare sector (“by health, for health”).

Key findings
  • Healthcare organizations demonstrate more progress than non-health organizations in implementing the Standard, motivated by the importance of building an engaged and productive workforce.
  • The healthcare sector manifests a number of unique strengths and challenges in implementation which distinguish it from the non-health sector.
  • Healthcare organizations vary considerably in implementation progress and strategy (e.g. staged vs full roll-out), likely reflecting different levels of organizational readiness for the change.
  • Healthcare organizations show notably low levels of employee knowledge and confidence regarding organizational programs and policies related to Standard implementation.
  • Healthcare organizations, like non-health organizations, have limited access to indicators specifically reflective of psychological health and safety issues.

Key recommendations

1. A resource should be developed that supports the implementation of the Standard and is customized to the healthcare sector.

  1. Implementation of the Standard by healthcare organizations should include evaluation of organizational readiness for this change by use of a tool or resource appropriate to the healthcare context.
  2. Healthcare organizations should measure employee knowledge and confidence regarding organizational policies related to implementation of the Standard, again using a tool or resource appropriate to the healthcare context.
  3. HealthCareCAN and the Mental Health Commission of Canada should consider initiating a collaborative task force to identify best practices in accessing and utilizing indicators of psychological health and safety, drawing upon knowledge gained through the Case Study Research Project.
  4. Healthcare organizations that have achieved substantial progress in implementing the Standard should be engaged as exemplars and mentors for healthcare organizations across the country.

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