Resilience training may help prevent ICU nurse burnout

Resilience training among intensive care unit (ICU) nurses may help them cope with stressful work experiences and prevent psychological side effects, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Critical Care.

Researchers, led by Meredith Mealer, Ph.D., from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, set up a 12-week intervention study, during which treatment and control groups answered questions about resilience, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and burnout syndrome before and after the intervention.

"ICU nurses sometimes leave their profession because the ICU is a stressful place to work, with high patient mortality and morbidity, daily confrontations with ethical dilemmas and a tension-charged atmosphere," authors wrote.

The intervention consisted of a two-day workshop, written exposure sessions, event-triggered counseling sessions, mindfulness-based stress reduction exercises and aerobic exercises, according to the study.

Researchers found the resilience training was feasible to conduct and acceptable to ICU nurses, and both nurses in the treatment group and the control group showed a significant decrease in their PTSD scores after the intervention. However, researchers must conduct a randomized clinical trial to measure the effect of the intervention on improving individuals' level of resilience, as well as improving psychological outcomes in symptoms like anxiety, depression, burnout and PTSD, according to the study.

But the nursing profession itself causes a certain amount of stress that impacts all nurses, according to a Nursing Times survey of 2,200 nurses conducted last year. Eight of 10 nurses report they are under more pressure than the previous year and suffer physical ailments as a result. And earlier this year, University of Akron researchers found that caring, nurturing and altruistic nurses actually experience more stress and burnout.

To learn more:
- here's the study