In a survey of 7,000 US nurses, researchers found that there was more pre-COVID suicidal ideation than in the general workforce
While COVID has seen nurses skyrocket with mental health issues, facing death and stress with little space to process any of it, what about before?
Before the pandemic, how did nurses in the US feel about their work?
1% more likely to think about suicide
Here, researchers looked at levels of suicidal ideation in the nurse workforce across the US. With a sample size of 7,000, they found that nurses were nearly 1% more likely to have suicidal ideation than the general workforce.
Those who reported suicidal ideation also said they were less likely than other respondents to seek professional help for their emotional issues. More than one-third of the nurses had at least one symptom of burnout and 40% screened positive for symptoms of depression.
“While the findings of our study are serious enough, we recognize the impact of the current pandemic has dramatically compounded the situation,” says Dr Liselotte Dyrbye, a Mayo Clinic internist and the senior author on this study.
“The need for system-level interventions to improve the work lives of nurses and other members of the health care team is greater than ever before.”
“The pandemic will have long-term repercussions”
The researchers say their findings indicate that the situation needs urgent attention, and systems- and practice-based interventions need to be developed and implemented to address burnout and suicidal ideation.
However, burnout is now sky-high. While the COVID pandemic is technically under control in the US, the virus continues to cause stress and concern across the medical frontlines.
Dr Guttormson, not involved in this study, said: “It is vitally important that we allow space and time for critical care nurses to share their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and that this support not stop when the pandemic is over.
“The pandemic will have long-term repercussions for critical care nurses and may result in nurses leaving critical care or the nursing profession.”