Mental Disorder Symptoms Among Nurses in Canada [2020]

Nurses face regular exposures to potentially psychologically traumatic events as part of their occupational responsibilities. Cumulative stress due to repeated exposure to such events is associated with poor mental health and an increased risk of developing clinically significant symptoms consistent with some mental disorders.

The current study was designed to estimate rates of mental disorder symptoms among nurses in Canada and identify demographic characteristics that are associated with increased risk for mental disorder symptoms.

An online survey was conducted with Canadian nurses in both English and French. Participants were recruited largely through the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) member unions, non-CFNU member unions, and social media. The survey assessed current mental disorder symptoms using well-validated screening measures.

A total of 4267 participants (93.8% women) completed the survey. Almost half of participants screened positive for a mental disorder (i.e., 47.9%). No gender differences emerged. Significant differences in proportions of positive screens based on each measure were found across demographic groups (e.g., age, province of residence, type of nurse).

The rate of positive screens appears much higher than mental disorder prevalence rates in the general Canadian population, but there were important methodological differences. The current results provide potentially important information to support researchers and healthcare administrators to investigate possible ways to mitigate and manage mental health in nursing workplaces.

Andrea M. Stelnicki, R. Nicholas Carleton
Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, October 4, 2020