June 24, 2009 What are the costs of caring? A new project in the School of Psychology explores nurses’ experience of distress and aims to determine if empathy with patients is associated with traumatic experience in nurses.
Researcher Jenny Watts said nurses can develop symptoms such as flashbacks, sleeping difficulty and emotional detachment which can have serious consequences for both their personal and professional lives.
Miss Watts said: “What is apparent is that nurses who identify with the patient and experience empathy appear to be most vulnerable to distress.
“Nursing is a diverse specialty and patient condition and contact will vary greatly between different wards. Currently the research focuses upon surgery, accident and emergency and children’s wards.
“Nurses caring for patients with dementia and other age related illnesses have shown anxiety and depression following patient deterioration and death.
“Further knowledge about nurse distress is required to shape interventions, reduce staff turnover, improve morale and maintain a high quality of care.
“This knowledge will be applied to shape suitable prevention and intervention strategies.”
Miss Watts added that with a growing number of patients aged over 70, it was important to ensure that the nursing force remains healthy, compassionate and able to provide high quality care for older adults.
She will be presenting her research at the Festival of Postgraduate Research which is taking place on the 25th June at the University of Leicester.
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