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Researchers look at PTSD among nurses

Photo: Juanmonino/iStockphoto

Boston — Work-related post-traumatic stress disorder is a “growing concern” for nurses, who must keep up with ever-changing workplace responsibilities while balancing demands at home, a recent study review from Boston Children’s Hospital suggests.

Researchers analyzed 24 previously published studies that examined nurses diagnosed with PTSD. Although varying degrees of the condition were observed among the participants – likely because of different methods of measuring PTSD or its symptoms – the researchers identified common themes that influence the disorder, including:

  • Witnessing trauma
  • Workplace and home relationships
  • Workplace support
  • Personal coping skills

“A better understanding of the factors influencing PTSD can provide insight into ways to potentially mitigate the harmful impact of PTSD in order to promote nurse well-being,” study co-author Michelle Schuster said in a May 6 press release.


The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety suggests that workplaces treat PTSD seriously and offer education and training. Tips for supervisors:

  • Understand that signs of PTSD include being angry or withdrawn.
  • Encourage the person to consult someone trustworthy for help.
  • Ask how you can support the worker – even if he or she doesn’t care to discuss it.
  • Provide access to and time away for support services – and be understanding to employees returning to work after an incident.

The study was published online May 5 in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

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