The mental health of two thirds of Navarrese nurses is affected after their work during the Covid-19 pandemic and one third shows moderate or severe symptoms. These data are derived from the ‘Mental-PRO-Covid’ project, carried out by a multidisciplinary team led by Dr. Cristina García-Vivar, professor in the Department of Health Sciences of the Public University of Navarra (UPNA).
The study, which has had the collaboration of the Official College of Nursing of Navarra, has been subsidized by the Department of Health of the Government of Navarra in the call for research projects in Health Sciences related to the pandemic produced by the SASRS virus -COV-2 in 2020.
As other analyzes have already shown, nurses are, among health professionals, one of the groups whose mental health has suffered the greatest impact during the pandemic. Specifically, this study reveals that “a high percentage of Navarrese nurses present worrying levels of depression, anxiety, insomnia and post-traumatic stress, a disorder suffered by people who have experienced a traumatic episode in their life.”
This greater involvement may be due, the research indicates, “to the characteristics of the nurses’ work, which, compared to other professionals, is based to a greater extent on direct and close contact with the patient and their family.”
The study highlights that the first line of care performed by nurses contributes to becoming a risk factor for the development of mental health problems. In addition, working in two specific areas significantly increases this risk: hospitalization units for patients with COVID-19 and geriatric residences.
WORK OVERLOAD AND LACK OF RESOURCES
To carry out the study, in April and May 2021, a questionnaire was sent through the College of Nursing to the 5,700 registered nurses in Navarra, both from the public and private sectors, of which 800 were finally included in the draft. In this sense, the research team would like to thank the Navarra nurses for their response to their participation in the study “in such difficult moments”.
The results indicate that 68.1% have different levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and of these, 38.2% show moderate or severe symptoms. On the other hand, insomnia appeared in 38.2% of the study participants.
The research points out that “factors such as work overload, lack of human, material and information resources, together with the high demands experienced by nurses and the need for adaptation that occurred during the pandemic have been able to condition the higher level of stress and anguish in these professionals “.
In this sense, Dr. García-Vivar underlines that “the International Council of Nurses has already warned about the increase in the rate of abandonment of the profession by nurses as a consequence of these conditions. Nurses are on the verge of exhaustion and the short- and medium-term effects can be disastrous. “
This is demonstrated by the in-depth interviews carried out with 32 nurses in a second phase of the research, in which these professionals highlight their exhaustion and hopelessness while acknowledging many of them that at first they were optimistic and tried to encourage others seeing the positive side of the situation.
Finally, taking into account the negative impact on the mental health of the nurses who have worked in the pandemic, with a view to the future, the research team considers it necessary to “implement actions beyond the emotional support that already exists in many Navarrese health centers, that improve working conditions and promote healthy work environments, as well as the training of current and future nurses (students) in the face of new health emergencies “.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.