Working in a COVID-19-laden environment has had a major impact on nurses ’mental health, according to a new survey by researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Toronto Institute of Work and Health.
“Whether working in acute care settings, in community care, or in long-term care homes, nurses experienced high rates of depression and anxiety as the pandemic accelerated,” says lead researcher Dr. Farinaz Havaei, a UBC professor of nursing who is studying health systems and psychological safety and health in the workplace.
Prior to the pandemic, two out of ten nurses reported feeling depressed. By April 2020, this had increased, and three in ten nurses reported feeling depressed.
And before the pandemic, three out of ten nurses said they had anxiety, while during the COVID-19 outbreak, four out of 10 reported feeling anxious.
“Heavy workloads, insufficient staff and mental and mental emotional stress of dealing with the suffering and death of humans, these factors contributed to the declining well-being of nurses, ”she added.
The survey was conducted in September 2019 and again in April and June of the following year and attracted more than 10,000 respondents.
Long-term care nurses were most affected
Although the pandemic affected many nurses, people in the long-term care (LTC) sector felt the most stress, with six out of ten reporting anxiety in April, compared with four in every 10 nurses in acute care. community care sectors.
However, when they were surveyed two months later, LTC nurses reported that their outlook had improved. In this survey, four in 10 (37 percent) reported feeling anxious and three in 10 (27 percent) said they were depressed.
Havaei says the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on LTC nurses is not surprising, as COVID-19 hit the long-term care sector hardest, adding that the apparent improvement in late spring it could be related to the fact that some nurses quit their jobs due to poor mental health.
“When we conducted the third round of surveys, many LTC nurses, probably burned by the strain of caring for sick patients, had quit their jobs, reducing the amount of mental health problems reported.”
Mental health support
Although the research is based on data from a single province, British Columbia, the findings highlight the need to critically examine the supports available to nurses across Canada, according to the study’s co-author, Dr. Peter Smith, senior scientist at the Institute for Work and Health. in Toronto.
“Healthcare workers have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response,” says Dr. Smith. “Studies have shown that when workers feel protected through proper and effective infection control practices and personal protective equipment, the rates of anxiety and depression are lower.”
Dr. Smith added: “We need to ensure that for the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic and for future pandemics, we have adequate systems and resources to protect front-line workers quickly and effectively. We must also ‘understand the effect that the prolonged period of high anxiety and stress has already had on front-line workers who did not feel protected.’
Dr. Havaei explains, poor thing nurse mental health has devastating costs for healthcare organizations and patients thanks to increased nursing absenteeism, “presentism,” and rotation.
“Preliminary analysis of our other research shows that poor mental health of nurses decreases up to 10 times the quality and safety of patient care. There is an urgent need to improve mental health. Health support and resources for nurses, especially those working in long-term care, ”adds Dr. Havaei.
Farinaz Havaei et al, The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of nurses in British Columbia, Canada through the analysis of trends at three time points, Annals of Epidemiology (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.annepidem.2021.05.004
University of British Columbia
Citation: Better mental health supports needed for nurses, study findings (2021, June 24) retrieved June 24, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-mental-health- nurses.html
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