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1 in 5 Nurses is Depressed

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   June 26, 2012

Here's a startling statistic: 18% of hospital-employed nurses experience depressive symptoms; that's twice the rate of the general public.

But according to researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, nurse leaders are in a unique position to help the nurses on their units identify their depressive symptoms and offer resources for dealing with the condition.

"They're the group that really needs to hear this," says one of the researchers, Susan Letvak, PhD, RN, associate professor of nursing, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, School of Nursing. She tells HealthLeaders Media that nurse managers have an obligation to ensure a healthy, productive staff. However, she thinks there's a "little bit of denial" about depression among nurses; they might chalk up their feelings to a bad day or a stressful job.

"I think nurses managers always have to address a problem," she says, no matter what the problems is.

And when as many as two out of every ten nurses on a unit could have depression that definitely qualifies as a problem.

In fact, it's a big, expensive problem. The Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative study cites other research showing that "almost two-thirds of the estimated $83 billion that depression cost the United States in the year 2000 resulted from lowered productivity and workplace absenteeism."

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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