"The largest initiative to improve hospital work environments to date has officially begun."

20 May 2020

with an award of €4 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme.

The largest initiative to improve hospital work environments to date has officially begun, with an award of €4 million from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme. The grant will support the international partnership of some of the world’s leading universities led by KU Leuven and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Centre for Health Outcomes and Policy Research. The School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork are leading the Irish arm of the study. The UCC research team includes: Professor Jonathan Drennan (Project lead), Dr Elaine Lehane and Dr Vera McCarthy. 

The aim of the initiative is to redesign hospital workplaces to improve the mental health and wellbeing of nurses and physicians and to improve patient safety. This initiative began in January 2020, aligning with 2020 being the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife  as designated by the World Health Organization.

Burnout, depression, and fatigue are issues faced by nurses and physicians in busy hospital settings. Patient safety depends upon vigilance, quick thinking, and intense attention to detail by health professionals which is made more difficult by stressful work settings. These issues have never been more to the fore as a consequence of the outbreak of COVID-19 and there is a need to ensure that healthcare staff are working in environments that enhance their physical and mental wellbeing.

Magnet4Europe will implement an evidence-based intervention based on the successful Magnet Recognition Programme. Studies have shown that Magnet-recognised hospitals have lower levels of burnout among health professionals and safer patient care.

Sixty hospitals in five European countries (Ireland, Belgium, England, Germany, and Sweden) will be supported by one-to-one twinning with an experienced Magnet recognized hospital and an annual learning collaborative. A rigorous research evaluation will determine the success of the initiative. 

There are currently 502 Magnet Recognized hospitals in 8 countries, with most located in the US. Only one hospital in Europe has achieved Magnet recognition. This initiative will test the feasibility and sustainability of the Magnet Model® for organizational redesign in the context of health care in Europe.

Professor Jonathan Drennan, the Ireland study lead said: “This research is coming at a crucial time in healthcare in Ireland. The insights gained from this research will facilitate healthcare organisations to identify and implement strategies that can improve the health and wellbeing of both patients and healthcare professionals”.


  • Ireland: University College Cork.
  • UK: University of Southampton; King's College London; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Belgium: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven; Meplis NV; Universitair Ziekenhuis Antwerpen
  • Germany: Technische Universitat Berlin
  • Sweden: Karolinska Institutet

Study Directors

  • Prof Walter Sermeus (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium),
  • Prof Linda Aiken (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

For further details...

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Scoil an Altranais agus an Chnáimhseachais

Brookfield Health Sciences Complex College Road Cork, Ireland , T12 AK54