Nursing & Healthcare News

Psychological Impact of COVID-19 on Nurses

ANA releases data from their survey series

If the pandemic has you at the end of your rope, you’re not alone. A recent survey finds that while many nurses across the country feel a strong sense of purpose now, others are stressed, fearful and overwhelmed.

Trouble Sleeping

The survey, which was conducted between March and June by the American Nurses Foundation (the philanthropic arm of the ANA) as part of their Pulse of the Nation’s Nurses Survey Series, drew almost 10,000 responses from nurses in various practice settings.

Those responses reveal the widespread psychological strain COVID-19 is causing America’s nursing workforce. Twenty-nine percent of respondents say the pandemic has left them depressed while more than half (52 percent) say they feel overwhelmed. Almost three-fourths — 72.6 percent — report sleep issues such as insomnia or oversleeping.

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A Question of Support

The good news is that most respondents (83.4 percent) say they’re well-supported at home. Unfortunately, many nurses don’t feel that sense of support at work. Fewer than half of respondents feel their employers value their mental health or offer nurses the support and flexibility to deal with responsibilities outside of work.

While many employers offer employee assistance programs (EAPs), survey respondents are finding little value in those programs. A mere 3 percent say their organization’s EAP has helped their wellbeing.

The survey responses reveal that many nurses feel a strong sense of purpose during the pandemic, but ongoing stress, fears about PPE supplies and risk to nurses’ own health are exacerbating burnout symptoms and even leaving some nurses with PTSD.

“It is deeply concerning that nurses are still operating in crisis mode four months into this pandemic, and that few are receiving the support they tell us they need,” says American Nurses Foundation Executive Director Kate Judge. “It is essential to recognize that supporting and protecting nurses includes access to both personal protective equipment and solutions to address the trauma, grief, moral distress and PTSD our nursing workforce is experiencing and will struggle with long after the COVID-19 crisis is over.”

Next Survey

The next survey in this series will consider the financial impact of the pandemic. To participate in that survey, see the ANA website.

Aaron Severson is a freelance writer, editor, and writing consultant as well as the associate editor of Working Nurse.

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