Laposa JM, Alden LE, Fullerton LM. Work stress and post-traumatic stress disorder in ED nurses/ personnel. J Emerg Nurs 2003; 29:23-28.

Most respondents to a survey about work stress thought they had received inadequate support from hospital administrators after a traumatic incident, according to this study from University of British Columbia in Canada.

The researchers surveyed 51 ED personnel from a large urban hospital, with most respondents being ED nurses, about work-related stress and trauma. Here are key findings:

  • A total of 20% considered changing jobs as a result of a traumatic incident at work.
  • Most respondents (67%) did not feel they had gotten the support they needed.
  • Only 18% attended critical incident stress debriefing.
  • None sought outside help for their distress.

The researchers say the findings underscore the need for awareness of workplace stress and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in their employees. They note that the vast majority of respondents did not attend debriefing programs offered to them by the hospital, but those who did were inclined to report feeling more support and less interpersonal conflict.

The researchers also found that interpersonal conflict was closely linked with post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. They theorize that supportive social relationships can lessen the impact of incidents events, so managers should focus on reducing interpersonal conflicts in the ED.

"A more positive interpersonal environment may make ED personnel less likely to be traumatized by the work they do," wrote the researchers. "Supportive social relationships have been shown to buffer the impact of traumatic events, and this suggests that providing emotional support for traumatized workers would be beneficial."