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Psychological support may be needed for nurses, staff in COVID-19 units

Photo: Juanmonino/iStockphoto

Glasgow, Scotland — Nurses and other health care workers in COVID-19 units, particularly younger and less-experienced staffers, need “tailored psychological support,” according to researchers from Great Britain.

The researchers conducted an online survey of 255 respiratory nurses, all but 28 of whom were women. Around 58% of respondents typically worked in an acute setting, and approximately the same amount said their roles changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half performed procedures that exposed them to aerosols, such as noninvasive ventilation and spirometry.

Around 1 out of 5 of the respondents said they experienced severe or moderately severe anxiety “during the first wave of the pandemic,” while 29% experienced mild anxiety. Those levels are higher than those of the general population and general medical practice, the researchers said. The respondents noted concerns about personal protective equipment, the working environment and quality of care, among other aspects.

Scores were similar for depression, with 17.2% reporting they experienced moderate-to-severe symptoms.

Around a third of the participants stated they received “some management support,” including flexible work options. Slightly fewer said they received “emotional support” (29.4%) or were guided by “clear leadership” (28.6%).


Along with their recommendation to provide tailored psychological support, the researchers contend that a “multipronged approach is needed to support staff at individual, team, departmental and organizational levels to make sure that all employees feel support, and that resilience and well-being [are] improved.”

The study was published online Nov. 15 in Nursing Times.

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