Traumatic Stress In Nursing

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Nurses in the Emergency Department (ED) and related trauma departments are exposed to multiple traumatic incidents over the course of the day. A lesser known fact is the amount of nurses currently working in the Emergency Department suffering from psychological trauma as a result of experiencing these traumatic events. According to research conducted by Kathryn T. Von Rueden, repeated exposure to traumatic stressors may result in the development of negative effects such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or PTSD symptoms. PTSD is defined as a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatizing event. Rueden’s research explains the connection between nurses caring for trauma patients and the development of Secondary Traumatic Stress …show more content…
In “Secondary Traumatic Stress in Trauma Nurses: Prevalence, Coping, and Personal/Environmental Characteristics” Kathryn T. Von Rueden, Katherine A. Hinderer, Karen A. McQuillan, Mary Murray, Theresa Logan, Betsy Kramer, Rebecca Gilmore, and Erika Friedmann investigated the prevalence of nurses suffering from PTSD and/or STS. Von Rueden et al sent out a survey to 262 staff nurses in the trauma center of an urban, 100-bed all trauma hospital. The survey asked for demographic data, nursing experience, and coping methods. The nurses were also asked to complete the Penn Inventory, a questionnaire that would measure the presence and severity of traumatic stress. According to Von Rueden et al’s research, 18% of nurses suffered from clinical levels of STS or were just below the threshold of being positively diagnosed. These findings suggest that there is a strong presence of nurses in the ED experiencing post traumatic disorders. In another study conducted by Jef Adriaenssens, the prevalence of PTSD/STS in 248 nurses working in the ED was also examined. According to Adriaenssens’ et al research, a significant number of nurses in the ED exceeded subclinical levels of psychological distress. In addition, one in four ED nurses exceeded the sub clinical cut off for PTSD symptoms. Also, 8% of participants reached a …show more content…
Ross-Adjie explain that the most severe traumas in the ED are violence against staff, death or abuse of a child, and high acuity patients. As a result of these traumas, there is a significant amount of nurses suffering from PTSD/STS in the ED. The development of PTSD/STS in a nurse has a severe impact on the performance of the nurse in the clinical setting. These results advocate the need for intervention by hospital staff and administrators. Adriaenssens’ et al research demonstrates that the use of debriefing and coping strategies strongly influences the psychological health of nurses and can prevent the development of PTSD. However, Laposa et al provide research stating that many nurses, due to the time constraints of their job, do not participate in debriefing meetings. While little can be done to minimize the amount of trauma nurses experience, the improvement of debriefing procedures can have a very positive influence on limiting the onset of PTSD in ED nurses. A review of the research demonstrates the prevalence of PTSD in nurses working in Emergency Departments and strongly supports the need of easily accessible coping methods and interventions in order to assist and support ED

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