Ann Arbor, Michigan ( – Burnout among health workers may have reached a new level during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, the stress of long hours and the constant exposure of critically ill or deceased patients can have a profound effect on mental health. In fact, according to a very disturbing study, nurses are twice as likely to commit suicide than other women.

A study conducted at the University of Michigan School of Nursing shows that nurses are also 70 percent more likely to commit suicide than female doctors.

“It’s much higher than I expected. The conclusion for me is that we have focused so much on the well-being of doctors that historically we have not paid enough attention to this huge workforce, which, according to our data, is at much greater risk, ”said lead author Dr. Matthew. Davis, an associate professor at the school, in Fr. statement.

Dr Davis explains that the study did not include pandemic data, which means that now the figures “may be even higher”. Researchers say this requires “extraordinary”. the COVID-19 pandemic puts on women – from home schooling to seeking childcare – to further increase the burden on nurses.

“Even before COVID, nurses reported significant stress”

The research team analyzed mortality data from 2007 to 2018, finding 2,374 suicides among nurses, 857 among doctors and 156,141 among the U.S. population. Co-author of the study Professor Christopher Friesek says that nurses and doctors face many similar risk factors for suicide, but these risk factors “potentially worsen” in nurses due to long hours and less autonomy.

“I am concerned about two key issues of today’s work. First, health care systems place increased demands on nurses, physicians, and other health care professionals. Even before COVID, nurses reported significant stress in the workplace, including staff reductions, increased care complexity, and additional bureaucratic challenges. Nurses work non-stop, caring for critically ill patients and facing their own exposure to the virus, ”says Frieze. , caring for children or parents workplace and home stress together, and it’s no wonder nurses struggle. I am worried that without concerted action things could get worse before it gets better. “

Co-author of the study, Professor Julie Baynum, says she was impressed by the widespread use of data for better understanding women’s health. However, “[u]Prior to our recent work, it was not used to understand the health of these women – as nurses – who are central to a well-functioning health workforce. As the population ages, the need for both applied nurses and nurses who take on the role of advanced practitioners will become increasingly important, ”she explains.

Among male nurses, suicide risk no higher than the total male population, the study found. However, researchers were surprised by the high number of suicides among nurses compared to doctors. They found no difference in the suicide rates of doctors and the general population, which is different from previous studies.

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Professor Frieze says one of the major obstacles to seeking help is the stigma that people fear for their livelihoods. “Employers need to make it easier for nurses, doctors and other health professionals who are struggling to get the help they need,” he notes.

The findings also show that nurses 90 percent more likely to face problems at work and 20-30 percent more likely than the general population. According to the results, the most common form of suicide among nurses was overdose.

Both nurses and doctors are likely to have antidepressantsbenzodiazepines, barbiturates and opiates in their system, which, according to researchers, suggests the need for greater behavioral consciousness of health professionals.

The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

SWNS writer Stephen Beach contributed to this report.

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