Who supports the psychiatric nurse? A qualitative study of the social supports that affect how psychiatric nurses cope with workplace risks and stressors [2018]

The study focuses on how registered psychiatric nurses in a high-dependency unit in Ireland utilise informal and formal supports to cope with risk and trauma in the workplace, including threats of physical violence and verbal abuse. Increasingly, research and policy acknowledge that risk management and emotional trauma affect the workplace performance and general well-being of Registered Psychiatric Nurses. However, there is a paucity of Irish social scientific research on how psychiatric nurses negotiate informal and formal networks, to cope with workplace risks every day. Drawing on qualitative interviews, this paper ascertains how psychiatric nurses interpret everyday risks and how they draw upon support networks (e.g. family, co-workers) to cope with workplace stressors. The findings show that Registered Psychiatric Nurses who were interviewed create boundaries between informal and formal networks that help them to cope with workplace risks. Our study indicates that in this context, organisational supports are seldom used by Registered Psychiatric Nurses, even in times of crisis. A core contribution of the work is that it affirms the importance of co-workers in how Registered Psychiatric Nurses negotiate workplace risks and makes recommendations on how formal organisational supports might be improved.

Geraldine Fahy, Lisa Moran

Irish Journal of Sociology, August 6, 2018