Almost 96% of nurses report experiencing at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and nearly 21% meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD, according to findings from a literature review published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

The study authors conducted an integrative literature review of 24 articles reporting on PTSD in RNs published from 1999–2019. Across the studies, 6.7%–95.7% of nurses had at least one symptom of PTSD and 8.5%–20.8% met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

Factors linked to PTSD symptoms in RNs were type of nursing role, particularly at the leadership level; violence, aggression, or trauma in the workplace; workplace frustrations such as lack of staffing or other resources; negative perception of patient care; lack of organizational support; lack of supportive relationships at work or at home; pediatric or adolescent death; and patient suffering. Interpersonal factors that made RNs less likely to have PTSD symptoms were use of healthy coping strategies, having an extroverted personality, and exhibiting resilience characteristics.

“Work‐related PTSD is occurring in nurses all over the world,” the researchers wrote. “Optimizing the well‐being of nurses should be a priority as PTSD can lead to negative mental, emotional, and physical effects. Multitargeted efforts directed at the organizational, interpersonal, and intrapersonal factors may help mitigate the harmful impact of PTSD and promote nurse well‐being.”

Learn more about healthy coping strategies and resilience in nurses on ONS Voice, and listen to episode 85 of the Oncology Nursing Podcast, Nursing Resilience and Self-Care Aren’t Optional. While you're there, subscribe to the Oncology Nursing Podcast on your favorite listening platform and get free NCPD opportunities delivered directly to your phone every week.