Depression is common among nurses and is linked to a higher likelihood they’ll make medical errors, new research suggests.
The study found that more than half of nurses who took part in a national survey reported sub-optimal physical and mental health. Nurses in poorer health had a 26 to 71 percent higher likelihood of reporting medical errors than did their healthier peers. Depression stood out as a major concern among the 1,790 U.S. nurses who responded to the survey, and as the key predictor of medical errors.
The study, which appears online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, also found that nurses who perceived their workplace as conducive to wellness were more likely to report good health.
The National Academy of Medicine has prioritized clinician well-being in its recently launched action collaborative, acknowledging that burnout, compassion fatigue, depression and poor work-life balance affect a large percentage of doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
The new research is the first large-scale national study to link nurses’ well-being to self-reported medical errors, limiting long shifts and providing easy-to-access, evidence-based resources for physical and mental health, including depression screenings, could go a long way toward improving nurses’ wellness and decreasing the chances that mistakes will be made.
The data came from a survey conducted by the American Academy of Nursing’s million hearts sub-committee of the health behavior expert panel. The survey included 53 questions and was offered through nursing organizations and 20 U.S. hospitals. Only responses from nurses who were in clinical practice were included in the study. The majority of participants were white women and the average age of participants was 44, which closely resembles the demographics of the nursing workforce nationwide.
A ground breaking high school health program assisted high school students in maintaining healthier weights and even helped relieve severe depression for a full year after the program ended. The research behind the program was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institutes of Health.
Dean of the Ohio State University College of Nursing was lead author of the study. COPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (Thinking, Emotions, Exercise, Nutrition) teaches adolescents that how they think is directly related to how they feel and behave. It also teaches them how to turn negative beliefs triggered by “activating events” into positive beliefs so that they feel emotionally better and engage in healthy behaviors.
Researchers found that 12 months after completing the COPEHealthy Lifestyles TEEN Program, students had markedly lower body mass index than students who received a more standard health curriculum. Additionally, COPE teens who began the program with extremely elevated depression had symptoms in the normal range after 12 months.
The study appears in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of School Health.
Ohio State researchers have been examining the use of Socratic questioning as part of a cognitive therapy approach to help relieve patients of depression symptoms. Socratic questioning, as it is used in cognitive therapy, is a series of guided questions in which the therapist asks a patient to examine their old outlooks on themselves and their place on the world and to consider a new perspective.
“People with depression can get stuck in a negative way of thinking,” said Justin Braun, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University.
This guided Socratic questioning allows patients to examine whether or not their negative thoughts are valid and gain a more realistic and expanded perspective of their life.
Cognitive therapy is an evidence-based treatment that helps patients to reduce their depression and protects against future depressive episodes.
The study appeared in a recent issue of the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy.
The study involved 55 patients who completed a questionnaire at the beginning of each session that measured their depressive symptoms. Researchers analyzed video recordings of the first three sessions and measured how often the therapist used Socratic questioning techniques during cognitive therapy
Sessions in which therapists used more Socratic questioning tended to be followed by greater improvements in patients’ depressive symptoms.