Over 59 million health care personnel work in various health care settings all over the world.(1) Current improvements in the development of health care systems and technology have increased the costs and complexity of health services.(2, 3) Changes in the ecosystem of healthcare have raised expectations of competence in personnel to manage complex work environments.(4, 5) At the same time, the well-being of health care staff continues to be at risk due to changes in work environments,(6) which have contributed negatively to staff’s physical and mental health.(7–9) Good evidence already exists that the well-being of health care personnel should be on the agendas of health care organisations as well-being among staff is an important contributor to the quality of care.(7, 10–12)
Well-documented literature has shown a variety of risk factors associated with health and well-being among health care personnel, such as heavy workloads,(11, 13, 14) organisational problems(11, 13, 15, 16) and leadership styles(2, 17–20). Problems in social environments(11) and workplace violence and harassment(2, 21, 22) have also been identified as risks for the well-being and health of personnel. These problems have been documented as resulting in physical illnesses, psychological symptoms,(23) burnout,(8) low work satisfaction(7) and quality of life, and increased sickness absence(11, 19) among personnel. Despite the strong measurement trends, awareness of personnel health and well-being in the workplace is still not ubiquitous.
Various sets of instruments for self-reported measures have already been used to measure health and well-being.(24) The most common methods are subjective survey measures.(12) Although some of these measures may be considered outdated based on current standards, a few large-scale epidemiological cohort studies have captured detailed and long-term information on psychological and social factors in conjunction with rigorous assessment of health care personnel behaviour and health.(14) Still a variety of limitations of self-measures and survey measures have been identified. Subjective measures lay on individuals’ interpretations,(25) which can be affected by multiple contextual factors.(22) Assessment results can also be vulnerable due to memory biases.(12, 22, 26) Cross-sectional survey instruments can only provide data depending on the timing of the data collection.(22) In addition, low response rates may cause limitations in results.(27) Because of these limitations, more usable and updated methods for assessing health and well-being among health care personnel are needed.
The use of sensor technology is growing as it provides new opportunities for more objective, accurate, updated and ongoing measurements of real-life situations.(28–30) Technological innovations have enabled the monitoring of different tasks and activity levels more effectively and efficiently.(30) Other benefits in sensor technologies are their ability to use large sample sizes with lower costs.(29) However, adaptation of new technologies in health care settings requires positive attitudes toward technology, new skills in health care personnel, and appropriate support, especially for those who are less-motivated technology users(31) or those who belong to older generations.(32)
To avoid redundancy and to ensure the value of the current review,(33) we performed a comprehensive search for earlier systematic reviews of the JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports, PubMed, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and found only 5 reviews that were related to personnel in any professional group. Khakurel et al.(34) described a recent trend in wearable technology, and assessed both its potential in the work environment and challenges concerning the utilisation of wearables in the workplace. They identified a total of 359 articles found, of which 34 met the selection criteria. The authors concluded that wearable technology can be used in the work environment for activities including monitoring, augmenting, assisting, delivering and tracking. Another review compared device-measured physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health across occupational groups, including healthcare workers.(35) Two other reviews described physical activity at the workplace using both subjective and objective methods including research-grade accelerometers (e.g., activPAL™, Actigraph™, GENEActiv™), smartphone-integrated accelerometers, accelerometer-inclinometers, and activity monitors (e.g., Fitbit®, Tractivity®).(36, 37) Further, Chappel et al.(38) assessed in their review with subjective and objective measures nurses’ occupational physical activity levels. The objective measurements used in the studies included heart rate monitoring, accelerometry, pedometry, and direct observation.
We also screened ongoing reviews registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) and found two ongoing systematic reviews on monitoring practices in workplace settings. Sands et al.(39) are focusing on best practices using wearable technologies to promote workplace physical activity, while Bustos et al.(40) aim to summarise progress in the development of physiological monitoring systems for occupational applications. However, we did not find any ongoing reviews focusing on different monitoring technologies used by health care personnel in the workplace. The gap in existing and ongoing review topics provides justification for a new review.(33)
There are already numerous sensoring applications that offer potential benefits in health care settings.(34) However, little is known about how these devices could be used to continually collect large-scale data to monitor health care personnel’s health and well-being. Therefore, the overall aim of this scoping review is to examine what technologies are available to monitor health care personnel’s health, well-being and activity in health care settings. More specifically, we want to explore what type of monitoring technology has been used to sensor healthcare personnel in various healthcare settings, as well as how and for what purposes it was used. As we will identify certain characteristics of sensor technology and offer an overview of the nature and diversity of the knowledge available(41), a scoping review is the best method of doing so.(42) Introducing a categorised framework and the different purposes of technological devices already used in practice could help us identify which types of devices are suitable for specific purposes and specific target groups, and thereby facilitate the adoption of wearable devices in the workplace.(34) The results of this scoping review will also be used to identify existing research gaps(43) and provide evidence on the best practice for how sensoring methods could be used in future studies.