The mental health of nurses in acute teaching hospital settings: a cross-sectional survey.

BioMed Central
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Journal Article
BMC Nursing, 2015, 14 pp. 15 - 15
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BACKGROUND: Nursing is an emotionally demanding profession and deficiencies in nurses' mental wellbeing, characterised by low vitality and common mental disorders, have been linked to low productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism. Part of a larger study of nurses' health, the aim of this paper was to describe the mental health status and related characteristics of nurses working in two acute metropolitan teaching hospitals. METHODS: A cross sectional survey design was used. The Registered and Enrolled Nurse workforce, employed on any form of contract, at two teaching hospitals in Sydney Australia were invited to participate. The survey tool was compiled of validated tools and questions. Family and medical history and health risk-related characteristics, current psycho-active medications, smoking status, alcohol intake, eating disorders, self-perceived general health, mental health and vitality, demographic, social and occupational details were collected. RESULTS: A total of 1215 surveys were distributed with a usable response rate of 382 (31.4%). Altogether 53 nurses (14%) reported a history of mental health disorders, of which n = 49 (13%) listed diagnoses of anxiety and/or depression; 22 (6%) were currently taking psychoactive medication. Symptoms that could potentially indicate a mental health issue were more common, with 248 (65.1%) reporting they had experienced symptoms sometimes or often in the last 12 month. Nurses had better mental health if they had better general health, lived with a spouse/ partner rather than alone, had fewer symptoms, sleep problems or disordered eating behaviours, were not an informal carer and did not work nights. Nurses had greater vitality if they were male, had better general health, fewer sleep problems or symptoms generally and lived with a spouse/ partner rather than alone; less vitality if they were an informal carer or had disordered eating. CONCLUSION: Nurses and their managers should strive to create workplaces where working practices promote nurses' health and wellbeing, or at least are configured to minimise deleterious effects; where both nurses and their managers are aware of the potential for negative effects on the mental health of the workforce; where cultures are such that this can be discussed openly without fear of stigma or denigration.
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