More support needed for nurses facing mistreatment at work

October 18, 2016

New research suggests that nurses need more help dealing with disrespectful behaviour from colleagues if patient care is to be maintained.

The study, led by Dr Roberta Fida from the University of East Anglia (UEA), argues that in order to retain high quality nurses it is important to understand what factors might protect them from the negative effects of workplace mistreatment. It comes at a time when many countries are facing nursing shortages which are expected to worsen as the workforce and population ages.

The ability to cope with the high levels of stress that nurses face in the workplace is important to their health and wellbeing. Incivility - defined as rude and discourteous comments and actions, and a general lack of concern for others - can come from colleagues, managers or patients. It remains a widespread issue and has previously been linked to nurse burnout - in terms of emotional exhaustion and cynicism - and, in turn, to poor mental health and staff leaving their jobs.

This new study, conducted with Dr Heather Laschinger from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, investigated whether individuals' beliefs about their ability to deal with workplace-specific stressful events can protect nurses from these negative effects. It is part of a wider research project on nursing work environments led by Dr Laschinger.

Published in the journal Health Care Management Review, the results show that self-efficacy - the belief in one's capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome - does have a protective role. The more nurses believed in their capability to cope with stressful interpersonal situations at work the less they perceived incivility from co-workers and supervisors.

Nurses with higher levels of self-efficacy also experienced less emotional exhaustion and cynicism a year after they were first surveyed and reported fewer mental health issues. However, self-efficacy was not significantly related to later intentions to leave the job.

Dr Fida, a lecturer in organisational behaviour at UEA's Norwich Business School, said: "These results are encouraging because self-efficacy is something that can be supported and promoted by proactive hospital management. Every effort must be made to ensure that incivility is not tolerated and to create working conditions that prevent subsequent burnout to ensure both employee and organisational health.

"Developing strategies to strengthen nurses' ability to deal with negative behaviour from different sources is also critical to ensuring high-quality patient care, while training and retaining highly qualified nurses is vital for addressing the supply and demand imbalance facing the profession."

The study involved 596 registered nurses in Canada who were surveyed at the start and again a year later. They were assessed on their levels of self-efficacy, their perception and experience of workplace incivility and burnout (emotional exhaustion and cynicism), their mental health and intention to leave their job.

Physician and co-worker incivility significantly affected nurses' emotional exhaustion and cynicism a year later, while supervisor incivility did not have a significant effect on either.

Nurses who reported greater emotional exhaustion and cynicism at the start of the study reported poorer mental health a year later. Although cynicism was significantly related to job intentions, emotional exhaustion was not.

Dr Fida said: "Nurses' confidence in their ability to handle incivility from team members is a crucial factor in maintaining a unified work group necessary for high-quality patient care. Confidence in their ability to deal with incivility from supervisors is also important in this respect. If managers are dismissive of concerns or ideas from frontline co-workers, patient care is threatened."

The researchers recommend providing nurses with opportunities to build their coping strategies for managing job demands and difficult personal interactions. For example, providing exposure to effective role models, such as colleagues and supervisors who are able to deal with these stressful situations and in this way show nurses a way of managing the possible difficulties experienced when interacting with their colleagues. Providing meaningful verbal encouragement from managers and co-workers is also recommended.
-end-
'The Protective Role of Self-Efficacy against Workplace Incivility and Burnout in Nursing: A Time-lagged Study', Roberta Fida, Heather Laschinger and Michael Leiter, is published in Health Care Management Review.

University of East Anglia

Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.