Nurses working in wards packed to capacity are more likely to experience depression than colleagues in quieter hospitals, research has suggested.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that health professionals in crowded institutions were twice as likely to take sick leave for depression.
While the findings do not prove that overcrowding causes mental health problems, they do raise the possibility that heavy workloads may have an effect, lead researcher Dr. Marianna Virtanen, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, said.
Virtanen and her colleagues correlated monthly bed-occupancy rates at 16 hospitals with sick leave data for their study, taking into account factors such as workers’ age and area of medical speciality.
Although the investigation did not look at the financial position or management structure of hospitals, she claimed working guidelines should be reviewed in light of the research.
“Good practice could be to keep the bed occupancy levels at a reasonable level,” said Virtanen.