Washington Update

Preliminary Findings from Survey on Impact of COVID-19 on NIH Workforce

By: Yvette Seger
Thursday, December 17, 2020

Preliminary findings from a survey issued by the National Institutes of Health to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on its workforce were presented during the recent meeting of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD). Separate surveys were administered to NIH intramural staff, senior leadership at NIH-funded institutions, and principal investigators on extramural grants.

Findings from all three surveys noted the challenges posed by significant alterations to the work environment and social distancing on mental health, career development, and research productivity, challenges that are further amplified due to caretaking responsibilities. However, despite the challenges of remote work, over half of survey respondents’ discomfort returning to on-site work were due to concerns about contracting or spreading COVID-19. To this end, “maintaining a healthy environment” was identified as a top priority among institutional leaders, with the majority noting increased costs associated with this assurance for staff and students.

NIH plans to release a more detailed analysis of the survey findings in 2021.