A Survey of Stress and Burnout in Forensic Mental Health Nursing [2020]

Background
Although it is known that forensic mental health nurses (FMHNs) work in a stressful environment, their experience of stress and burnout remains largely unexplored.

Aim
The study aimed to measure levels of burnout and workplace stressors experienced by FMHNs.

Methods
A survey of 205 FMHNs was undertaken. Respondents completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the Nursing Stress Scale.

Findings
Fifty-seven FMHNs completed the survey, representing a response rate of 27.8%. Only five respondents (8.8%) experienced high levels of burnout across all three Maslach Burnout Inventory subscales. The most reported workplace stressors were related to “workload,” “conflict with other nurses,” and “conflict with physicians.” A correlation between total Nursing Stress Scale score and both “emotional exhaustion” and “cynicism” were found (r = 0.45, p < 0.001, and r = 0.34, p < 0.011, respectively), indicating that FMHNs who reported higher workplace stress are at an increased risk of burnout.

Conclusion
Most FMHNs in the current study experienced moderate levels of burnout, although they continued to feel self-assured in their practice and found their work rewarding. Consistent with other nursing populations, the FMHNs in this study reported feeling stressed by their workload and as the result of conflict with other nurses and physicians.

Implications for Clinical Forensic Nursing Practice
Reduced well-being, associated with stress and burnout, may lead to increased absences from work and the delivery of poor-quality forensic mental health consumer care. The implementation of staff well-being strategies is recommended to address stress and burnout in FMHNs.

Newman, Claire RN, MN (Hons); Jackson, Jane RN, MN (Mental Health); Macleod, Shona RN, MN (Mental Health); Eason, Michelle RN, MN (Mental Health)
Journal of Forensic Nursing: 7/9 2020 – Volume 16 – Issue 3
DOI: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000271
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