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Posted: February 4th, 2024

Prevalence of Burnout among Psychiatric Nurses

Prevalence of Burnout among Psychiatric Nurses

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by chronic stress at work. It can affect the quality of care, job satisfaction, and well-being of nurses. Psychiatric nurses are particularly vulnerable to burnout due to the high demands and challenges of working with mentally ill patients. This blog post will explore the prevalence, causes, consequences, and interventions of burnout among psychiatric nurses.

Prevalence of Burnout among Psychiatric Nurses

According to a report by the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), funded by the RCN Foundation, challenging work conditions lead to widespread mental health problems and burnout among nurses and midwives in the UK [1]. The report, which was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, found that poor working conditions – such as high work demands, poor leadership, lack of resourcing and workplace bullying – not only threaten the health of nurses and midwives, but also impact on their ability to deliver high quality care to patients. The report also concluded that the rates of poor mental health and burnout among nurses and midwives were likely to be increased by the strain on national health services during the pandemic.

A cross-sectional study by Alonazi et al. [2] examined the relationship between psychological resilience and professional quality of life (ProQOL) among 179 mental health nurses in Saudi Arabia. ProQOL is a measure of the positive and negative aspects of helping others who experience suffering and trauma. It consists of three subscales: compassion satisfaction (the pleasure derived from being able to do one’s work well), burnout (the sense of hopelessness and difficulties in dealing with work or doing one’s job effectively), and secondary traumatic stress (the work-related secondary exposure to extremely or traumatically stressful events). The study found that 25.7% of the participants reported low levels of compassion satisfaction, 23.5% reported high levels of burnout, and 18.4% reported high levels of secondary traumatic stress. The study also found a strong positive correlation between psychological resilience and compassion satisfaction, and a negative significant correlation between resilience with burnout and secondary traumatic stress.

A survey by McKinsey & Company [3] assessed the mental health and well-being of more than 1,000 nurses across four countries (Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, and United States) in June 2021. The survey results revealed that symptoms of burnout and mental-health challenges among nurses remain high; the potential long-term workforce and health implications of these persistent pressures are not yet fully understood. The survey found that 24% of the respondents reported feeling burned out at least once a week, 29% reported feeling depressed at least once a week, and 36% reported feeling anxious at least once a week. The survey also found that nurses who experienced burnout were more likely to report lower levels of job satisfaction, lower levels of patient safety, lower levels of quality of care, and higher intentions to leave their current employer or the profession.

Causes of Burnout among Psychiatric Nurses

Burnout among psychiatric nurses can be attributed to various factors related to the work environment, the nature of the job, and individual characteristics. Some of the common causes are:

– High work demands: Psychiatric nurses have to deal with complex and unpredictable situations involving patients with severe mental disorders, such as aggression, violence, self-harm, suicide attempts, etc. They also have to cope with heavy workloads, long working hours, shift work, understaffing, inadequate resources, etc. These factors can create excessive pressure and stress for psychiatric nurses, leading to emotional exhaustion and reduced personal accomplishment [4].
– Poor leadership: Psychiatric nurses need supportive and effective leadership to perform their roles effectively. However, some psychiatric nurses may experience poor leadership styles, such as authoritarianism, lack of feedback, lack of recognition, lack of autonomy, lack of participation in decision making, etc. These factors can undermine psychiatric nurses’ motivation, empowerment, trust, and commitment to their work [5].
– Lack of resourcing: Psychiatric nurses need adequate resources to provide quality care to their patients. However, some psychiatric nurses may face resource constraints, such as insufficient staffing levels,


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