Depression in nurses is depressing me

As you may have read this week in FierceHealthcare, two new studies suggest that nurses working in hospitals are much more susceptible to depression than their counterparts in clinics, schools or other locations, especially if their hospital is high-volume.

A study in the May 4 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry looked at the relationship between bed occupancy rates and absenteeism and found that those working in units that were 10 percent more crowded than the optimal rate had twice the rate of depressive illness than their counterparts in less crowded units.

The second study, appearing in the May 19 issue of Health Policy, is based on data from the 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses in Canada. While looking at absenteeism in general, the report notes that depression is a "significant determinant" for missed work among RNs and LPNs, and that those who work in a hospital are more likely than those working in other settings to miss work.

One thing we might first observe is that with health reform, things will get much worse before they get better. At some point, the estimated 35 million newly insured Americans will seek healthcare, potentially burdening the system. And of course this all impacts recruitment and retention and even further impacts whether folks choose to enter into the profession.

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