Hard job, huge toll

Monday , August 06, 2012 - 3:19 PM

Photo illustration by SHutterstock...

Jamie Lampros

Nearly one in five hospital nurses is fighting depression — and that’s becoming a concern for their employers.

According to a University of North Carolina study, nurses suffer from depression at twice the rate of the national population.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, and published in the May/June issue of Clinical Nurse Specialist, also looked at how nurses’ depression might affect the quality of care they provide patients.

More than 70 percent of nurses surveyed reported working with some pain or health problem that negatively affected their productivity in the previous two weeks.

Nurses also reported having difficulty concentrating and being accident-prone.

“High-stress environments are likely to contribute to more health problems for nurses, including mental health issues,” said Susan Letvak, one of the study’s lead authors. “Mental health issues are less likely to be disclosed to employers than physical problems.”

Dr. Brent Blaisdell, an employee assistance program manager for Intermountain Healthcare, said many of the nurses he knows put so much effort into helping and treating others that sometimes they neglect their own self-care — which can often lead to emotional difficulties such as depression.

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