The oncology nursing profession is a difficult career, fraught with long hours and stressful situations. With those factors, anxiety and depression could become more prevalent. In study findings published in conjunction with the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, researchers reported the rates of depression and anxiety among nurses working in oncology units and how certain situations related to these rates.

In the descriptive study, researchers enrolled 73 nurses from seven different medical centers; most of the nurses were female (89%), and eight were male (11%). The median age was 34.8 ± 8.6 years; 38.4% were single and the remaining 61.6% were married. A total of 27.4% had been prescribed a drug by the psychiatric department for any reason, and the remaining 72.6% did not use any type of psychiatric medication. The median time that participants were employed as a nurse in any department was 14.02 ± 8.81 years; the median amount of time that the nurses worked just in the oncology department was 69.08 ± 61.9 months.

Enrolled nurses working at inpatient or outpatient oncology units provided demographic information, and the researchers applied the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale to the data to calculate each nurse’s level of depression and anxiety; a “depressive mood” was defined as a score of at least 7.

Results showed that 60.3% of nurses enrolled in the study expressed a depressive mood, and depression was more frequently observed (p < 0.05) in female, married nurses. A score of 10 or greater was used to show the presence of common anxiety disorder, according to the anxiety scale; anxiety was present in 31.5% of all nurses enrolled in the study. The study also showed that married nurses working at an inpatient oncology service (p < 0.05) experienced more anxiety.

The researchers determined that with the workload of oncology nurses continuing to increase, and a rise in lower occupational satisfaction, anxiety, and depression may be causes.

“Perhaps the application of these tests periodically to healthcare staff working in oncology units may give us preliminary information about depression and/or anxiety,” the authors concluded.