A recent article in the journal “Clinical Nurse Specialist” looked at the rates of depression in hospital based nurses. It found that nurses who worked in hospitals were twice as likely to be depressed as the general population 18% vs 9%.
This article has raised a significant amount of noise in social media circles. Unfortunately, most of the respondents haven't' read the actual article itself., they have been responding to summaries by others. I decided that I had to actually read the article itself. It was interesting and like most good articles, raised more questions than it answered.
The article is a combination of literature review combined with a study that the authors themselves conducted. It showed a lot of things that for most of us weren't surprising. The first thing that I noticed was that nurses in other countries with different health systems, had the same problems with depression than nurses in the United States have. Most of the studies in the literature review were from other countries.
To me the only thing the study really identified was the need for more study. And I hate that. The authors themselves pointed out that their study doesn't say what came first, the chicken or the egg. The respondents of the study were 92 % female. A bigger sample with the ability to differentiate between male and female responses would be helpful. The second thing that the study identifies was BMI with 32% being overweight and 24% being obese. Although the authors themselves make some assumptions, they are careful to advise readers not to jump to conclusions. Anecdotally, I have to say that the majority of my nursing students have a BMI that puts them into the obese category (By the way, I'm not a flight nurse anymore because I'm to fat) and that they are already showing signs of depression.
The one thing that everyone can probably agree on is that depression directly affects the quality of the care than nurses provide. It's time to take the problem seriously and look into it. I know that I've joked in my work environment that more than half my coworkers were on antidepressants (myself included). Maybe it's time to not joke about it, but time to look at doing something about it. Unlike most of the voices on the net, I'm not going to blame the hospitals and the work for the problem. I'm going to blame us, nurses as a corporate body.
Despite what people believe, hospitals and regulators aren't working together in some big conspiracy against nurses. Our problem is that we as a group don't help each other. And unfortunately that is something that has been going on for decades. When I look look at the organizations that are thriving, and have a nurses lining up to go there, with no staff turnover, it's because of internal things that the nurses did on their own. They laugh, they support each other, they help each other, no one is an island working on their own. All this satisfaction, came from inside. It started with one nurse,and grew. It didn't come down from on top.
So quit your Bitchin and get out there and make a change. If your looking for suggestions, look at the Go Fish collection. It focuses on a Seattle fish market and how they turned things around to become a tourist attraction.
It's not going to stop the depression, but it may limit it's effects.