Trend or Issue in Nursing or Healthcare Assignment | Online Assignment
Assignment 2 & 3 I have attached files for the assignment instruction. 1.) Assessment Overview- Please refer to Assignment 2 & 3. 2.) COVID 19 file – I have submitted this file last week to my instructor for my assignment 1. However, she returned it saying this can be a start for Assignment 2 & 3COVID-19 as Biological Hazard: How it Affects Nurse’s Mental Health?
Maria Nina Pedrozo
Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University
NURS438 – Trends and Issues in Nursing and Health System
COVID-19 as Biological Hazard: How it affects Nurse’s Mental Health?
“Nurses are distinct from other healthcare providers as they have a wide scope of practice and approach to medical care. They play an integral role in promoting health, preventing illness, and caring for all individuals, including those who are disabled or are physically or mentally ill.” (Smith, 2020)
However, nursing is indeed a hazardous job. Occupational hazard does not only affect the physical state of the nurses, and it affects as well the mental health. As a healthcare provider, this nursing issue is important to me, especially since we are facing a global pandemic that has claimed many lives, including healthcare workers.
In this paper, I will discuss how occupational hazards not just negatively affect nurses physically but as well as mentally. “Nurses have always worked under intense psychological pressure, but the current pandemic is making extraordinary demands on them both physically and mentally.” (Catton, 2020 as cited in Ford, 2020). This paper will outline the significant pandemic-related hazards that nurses and other health care providers are facing. It is important to determine these variables as they influence the nurse’s quality of work and health well-being.
Hazards typically fall into different categories. According to Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, nurses can be exposed to contagious and infectious diseases, various chemicals, physical demands involving force, prolonged activities, and radiation. Additionally, nurses can be exposed to burns or scald as well as situations such as slips, trips, and falls. All these occupational hazards can affect the physical health of the nurses. Are these potentially hazardous to the mental health of the nurses?
Psychological Hazards are any danger that affects the mental well-being of a nurse or health care provider. According to ISHN -Industrial Safety and Hygiene News (2020), psychological hazards relate to discrimination, violence, dependent and demanding patients, patient deaths, etc. All of these contribute to the mental breakdown of nurses, which includes frustration, stress, and isolation.
According to the article written by Francoise Mathieu, a Certified Mental Health Counsellor and a Compassion Fatigue Specialist. In his article published in Canadian Nurse website, he emphasizes the compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burnout as an occupational hazard. He defined compassion fatigue as emotional and physical exhaustion that nurses can develop due to the high volume of patients, and when nurses are working continuously in a high-stress setting without a break. Meanwhile, secondary traumatic stress can happen as a result of a traumatic event they hear or witness in their surroundings. This kind of stress is associated with post-traumatic stress and can be developed to vicarious trauma overtime – workers become more anxious and fearful about a specific situation that leads to an inability to enjoy daily living and to connect with others. Lastly, is burnout and it can happen to anyone due to exhaustion because of stressful conditions in the workplace.
As described above, there is no doubt that COVID-19 front liners are likely to develop this kind of mental breakdown as they have been exposed to the most stressful event especially witnessing thousands of patients and even their colleagues are dying. “The research team found that among the Chinese workers exposed to COVID-19, women, nurses, those in Wuhan, and frontline healthcare workers had a greater risk of worsening mental health outcomes than average. Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that frontline workers engaged in the diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients with COVID-19 had a higher risk of depression symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, and distress.” (Lai et. al, 2020 as cited by Rosenfeld, 2020)
Secondly, during this global pandemic, it is essential to protect healthcare workers, the investigators wrote. They suggested that interventions to promote mental well-being for workers exposed to COVID-19 need to be implemented, with particular attention to women, nurses, and frontline workers.” (Rosenfeld, 2020). However, there is a lack of supply for personal protective equipment (PPE). Since it is a global pandemic, the shortage of N95 masks and PPE has been a crisis to the various part of the world. According to CNN (2020), “health care workers have felt frustrated, anxious, and vulnerable about-facing patients infected with a contagious and potentially lethal disease without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). This constant state of fear quickly becomes mentally exhausting, especially in the face of increased work demands during a pandemic. The pandemic will certainly release a long record of psychological trauma, not just to the patients but also to the nurses and front liners.
Lastly, is the negative effect of social isolation among nurses. As a human, we tend to socialize in order to survive. However, since the COVID-19 virus has rapidly transmitted globally, it is advised to social isolate in order to be safe. Social isolation is an effective way to protect oneself from getting in contact with the infected person. It is required for nurses who have been exposed to positive patients to prevent cross-contamination. However, social isolation would bring the negative effect of loneliness, anxiety, and sometimes depression. “Loneliness increases earlier death by 26%, social isolation by 29%, and living alone by 32% (Holt-Lunstad , 2015 as cited by Gabbatt , 2020). Many of the nurses are not going home anymore with the fear of infecting their families to the virus. Some are sleeping in the hotel alone; others are in the garage. Some are even sleeping in cars after their exhausting hours of work.
Meanwhile, in Italy, there has been a suicide crisis facing healthcare workers where doctors and nurses committed suicide. According to Reger, Stanley, and Joiner (2020), Leading theories of suicide emphasizes the key role that social connections play in suicide prevention. Individuals experiencing suicidal ideation may lack connections to other people and often disconnect from others as suicide risk rises. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are associated with social isolation and loneliness. Therefore, from a suicide prevention perspective, it concerns that the most critical public health strategy for the COVID-19 crisis is social distancing.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, mental health problem vastly affects the frontline health workers. There is no doubt that this crisis affects the physical state of the health care providers and their mental health. The exposure to this biological hazard is greater risk in the mental health of the worker as can it hit from a different angle. According to Rosenfeld (2020), the nurse taking care of patients with COVID-19 had a higher risk of depression symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, and distress.” This is supported by Francoise Mathieu, with his article about compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, and burnout as an occupational hazard.
Additionally, the relationship of quickly becoming mentally exhausted among nurses has been revealed by CNN article. It has been linked to the constant state of fear in the face of increased work demands during a pandemic without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Moreover, suicide is quietly killing the frontline due to loneliness and isolation. All of these factors greatly influence the mental health of nurses.
We have witnessed the painful effect of the COVID 19 pandemic. Working in this challenging situation puts the nurse’s lives at risk and even their families. We are seeing people and health workers being fearful about working in outbreak situations. Nurses are even more afraid due to staffing and PPE supply issues, causing psychological trauma. However, they still choose to work despite the risk they are involved in. Our personal values influence us to help those who need help and put aside our own well-being to care for patients with COVID-19. Despite the moral burden nurses are facing, nurses are still showing compassion and kindness, especially to those who are suffering. Our professional values influence us to become responsible for our duty. It is our responsibility to protect our patients no matter what. Our professional values as nurses drive us to become better health care workers.
CCOHS (2018, October 29). What are some health and safety hazards associated with being a nurse? Retrieved from https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/occup_workplace/nurse.html
Faraz, S (2020 April 4). CNN Opinion. Health care workers face a mental health crisis as they battle the coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/04/opinions/mental-health-crisis-coronavirus-faraz/index.html
Ford, S (2020). Mental Health. Global nursing body issues warning on nurse mental health during Covid-19 crisis. Retrieved from (https://www.nursingtimes.net/news/mental-health/global-nursing-body-issues-warning-on-nurse-mental-health-during-covid-19-crisis-30-04-2020/
Gabbatt, A (2020). Social recession: How isolation can affect physical and mental health. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/coronavirus-isolation-social-recession-physical-mental-health
Mathieu, F (2014). Canadian Nurse. Occupational hazards: Compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout. Retrieved from https://www.canadian-nurse.com/en/articles/issues/2014/june-2014/occupational-hazards-compassion-fatigue-vicarious-trauma-and-burnout
Reger et. al (2020). Suicide mortality and coronavirus disease 2019—a perfect storm? Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2764584
Smith, Y (2020). Nursing Healthcare Profession. Retrieved fromhttps://www.news-medical.net/health/Nursing-Healthcare-Profession.aspx
Rosenfeld, S (2020, March 23). HCP Live. COVID-19 Affects Mental Health of Nurses, Frontline Workers More Than Others. Retrieved from https://www.mdmag.com/medical-news/covid-19-affects-mental-health-nurses-frontline-more