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Nurses struggle with burnout, harassment and mental health issues, study finds

The nursing shortage has negatively affected workloads for 88 percent of nurses in 2018, up significantly from 62 percent in 2016.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Burnout, overwork and harassment continuing to affect nurses and impact patient care in 2018, due in large part to the national nurse shortage, finds a new study from travel nurse staffing provider RNnetwork.

According to the study, 49 percent of all respondents have considered leaving nursing in the past two years, a number that has not changed since RNnetwork's 2016 survey.

Sixty percent of nurses feel they spend the right amount of time at work. That is a slight decrease from 63 percent in 2016, indicating hours and expectations are increasing.

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The nursing shortage has negatively affected workloads for 88 percent of nurses in 2018, up significantly from 62 percent in 2016. Forty-six percent feel more overworked than they did two years ago, while 62 percent of nurses believe the shortage is negatively impacting the quality of care they can provide.

More than half of nurses, 54 percent, report their workload has negatively impacted their mental health. And 35 percent report the impact on mental health has likewise negatively affected their work.

Forty percent of nurses believe they have less free time now compared to two years ago. A similarly-sized group, 38 percent, feel their available free time has not changed in two years.

Meanwhile, close to 40 percent of nurses report being bullied or harassed during the past year. More than 20 percent of nurses are also subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.


Burnout continues to be a significant problem among nurses as the nurse shortage persists. In 2018, 62 percent of nurses felt regularly burned out in their jobs and 44 percent of nurses believed that burnout had affected their work performance.

Much like physicians, nurses are prone to leaving when they've finally had enough -- and that turnover can have detrimental effects on everything from a hospital's financial strength to the quality of patient care.


"The fact that the majority of nurses are burned out and half are considering leaving their profession should be a wake-up call for the healthcare industry," said Lynne Gross, vice president at RNnetwork. "These survey findings reveal areas where providers can work together with nurses to improve working hours, reduce instances of workplace bullying and harassment, and address mental health."

Twitter: @JELagasse

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