Nurses run the risk of developing mental health problems if they empathise too much with patients, according to research at Leicester University’s school of psychology.
The research suggested serious consequences for the personal and professional lives of the nurses concerned.
Researcher Jenny Watts said that nurses may develop flashbacks, sleeping difficulties, emotional detachment and other symptoms associated with distress and trauma.
Ms Watts will present her findings at the Festival of Postgraduate Research on June 25 in the Belvoir Suite of the university’s Charles Wilson Building.
Ms Watts says the growing number of patients over the age of 70 means it is vital to ensure that nurses stay healthy, compassionate and able to provide high-quality care.
‘Nurses caring for patients with dementia and other age-related illnesses have shown anxiety and depression following patient deterioration and death’, she says.
‘Further knowledge about nurse distress is required to shape interventions, reduce staff turnover, improve morale and maintain a high quality of care. This knowledge will be applied to shape suitable prevention and intervention strategies.’
Does empathising with patients affect your mental health?