Do high-volume facilities cause depression in nurses?

Nurses are among the most respected professionals in society and among the hardest working in healthcare. But they also are subject to high patient loads, a lack of respect from superiors, and long shifts. According to two new studies, those working in hospitals in general--and more crowded ones in particular--are much more subject to depression than their counterparts in clinics, schools or other locations, Reuters reports.

The first study, published in the May 4 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, looked at the relationship between bed occupancy rates and absenteeism among more than 5,100 nurses and physicians in Finland (nurses accounted for more than 90 percent of the participants). The authors found that those working in wards that were 10 percent more crowded than the 85 percent optimal rate had twice the rate of depressive illness than their counterparts in less crowded wards.

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 missing work for both RNs and LPNs, and that those who work in a hospital are more likely than those working in other settings to miss work.

It's not a new issue. In 2005, the Journal of Nursing Administration ran a review article on depression in nursing and noted that it was a real issue when it came to job satisfaction; in turn, it impacted retention and recruitment.

To learn more:
- check out this Reuters article
- read this abstract in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
- read this Health Policy abstract
- check out this redOrbit piece