1. Singh Joy, Subhashni D.
  2. Kayyali, Andrea MSN, RN

According to this study:

* Mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms are common among hospital nurses.


* Low income is correlated with symptoms of depression.



Article Content

Depression is common among Americans, and research has shown that women are at much higher risk for major depression than men. Studies have also shown that nurses (the vast majority of whom are women) may be especially at risk. This study surveyed 150 medical-surgical nurses from three hospitals to determine the prevalence and predictors of depression among female nurses. All participants had at least a year of nursing experience and worked at least 20 hours per week. Most (93%) were white; they averaged 38 years of age and 10 years' hospital nursing experience.


Thirty-five percent of nurses had mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms; the most common included restless sleep, poor motivation, feeling bothered, and concentration problems; many reported feeling hopeful, happy, or joyful on only two days (or fewer) during the week before filling out the questionnaire.


Somatic symptoms, stressful major life events, greater occupational stress, and lower income were correlated with the presence of depressive symptoms. Fatigue and low energy were bothersome to 43% of nurses; pain in extremities and joints, trouble sleeping, and back pain were also common. Having a mortgage or loan of more than $10,000 within the previous year was the most commonly reported (43%) stressful major life event. Others included changes in sleeping habits, vacation, and holidays. The most highly ranked occupational stressors were having insufficient time to provide emotional support to a patient and to complete nursing tasks, being required to complete many nonnursing tasks (such as paperwork), and inadequate staffing.


Although the study has some limitations, such as a small sample size, the results indicate that nurses may benefit from interventions to reduce personal and occupational stress and prevent somatic symptoms. The authors suggest offering nurses money-management education, particularly during times of limited salary increases. Programs promoting an ergonomic working environment can help to prevent or decrease physical pain, as may wellness programs, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy to reduce negative thinking and increase "positive self-talk." Ensuring adequate staffing levels can also help decrease occupational stress among nurses, the authors write.




Welsh D. Issues Ment Health Nurs 2009;30(5):320-6.