Study finds nurses deal with violence, PTSD, depression

BC nurses are burning out

Research has found PTSD, anxiety and burnout rates ranked high among B.C. nurses.

And that was before the COVID-19 crisis started.

A joint study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia and commissioned by the BC Nurses’ Union showed that long before the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses working in acute care, long-term care and community care settings were reporting high levels of mental injury and workplace violence.

The study, which had 4,462 responses from nurses around the province, found a staggering 85 per cent reported exposure to physical assault and 54 per cent reported high levels of burnout.

In acute care, 57 per cent reported high levels of burnout, 50 per cent were above the cutoff point for PTSD and 31 per cent reported moderate or severe depression.

The findings come on the heels of a national report that shows a similar trend with regards to mental health and nursing.

BCNU President Christine Sorensen said the data highlights the “serious need for nurses to be better supported in their workplaces now more than ever, given the unprecedented stress and impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on nurses.”

“Before COVID-19, we see there was a dire need for investments in mental health support for nurses who are dedicated to providing care,” said Sorensen. “Nurses are professionals and are committed to their patients, but this research shows they have been suffering in silence for too long.”

A second joint survey, also on psychological health and safety, is underway and includes a similar look at nurses’ mental health with researchers turning their focus on the specific impact of COVID-19 on the psychological health of nurses.

The results will provide the opportunity for a comparative look at mental health issues before and after the pandemic and could help to inform requirements for pandemic planning by government and health employers which will incorporate the psychological health of nurses now and for the future.

“We are committed to collecting this important data to help shed a light on the realities in health care, and to encourage parties to come together to find solutions,” said Sorensen. “B.C.’s patients deserve safe quality care delivered by professional nurses whose physical and mental health is held by health employers as a top priority.”

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