Nurses at Crowded Hospitals More Likely Depressed

Source: Amy Norton, Reuters Health, May 31, 2010

Nurses who work in hospital wards that are usually filled to capacity may have a higher risk of depression than their counterparts in less-crowded hospitals, Finnish researchers suggest.

Their new study found that hospital staffers who worked in the most crowded wards were twice as likely to take sick leave for depression as staff who worked in wards with “optimal” numbers of patients. The large majority of workers in the study — 93 percent — were nurses.

The findings, published online May 4 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, don’t prove that hospital overcrowding contributed to the nurses’ depression. But they raise the possibility that chronic stress due to a heavy workload might impair some hospital workers’ mental health, lead researcher Dr. Marianna Virtanen, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

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