A study, led by Karen J. Foli, an associate professor at the Purdue School of Nursing, in Indiana, published in the April 2020 edition of Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, has found that nurses are experiencing a new type of psychological harm specific to their daily work – insufficient resource trauma.
Of the 1,478 completed surveys, 372 registered nurses licensed in the state of Indiana provided written responses to a request for additional comments about on-the-job trauma they experienced.
Staffing issues were reported by nurses who had to work shifts longer than 12 hours and who were exposed to unsafe situations that jeopardized patient safety.
These were described as hurrying through tasks to complete them, falsifying patient care documents, and going without food and hydration during their shifts.
The nurses said they experience a range of negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, grief, guilt, anger, burnout and flashbacks. Physically, nurses reported nightmares, unhealthy diets, and substance use.
Researchers said the nurses’ comments were “vivid and descriptive, (and) frequently indicated they are still recovering from the traumatic experiences and making sense of what happened to them.”
The study concluded that nurses’ reports were vivid, frequently indicating they were still recovering from traumatic experiences.
Professional sources of trauma were categorized as inherent in the role of the nurse and those that could be mitigated through organizational policy, adequate resources, and oversight.
According to a Feb. 3 press release from UC San Diego Health, the suicide rates for both male and female nurses – 33 and 10 per 100,000, respectively – exceeded those of their counterparts in the general public: 27 and 7, respectively.
The World Health Organization reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, at 13 deaths per 100,000 people.