drawing of nurses wearing face masksResearchers found rising levels of depression and anxiety in interviews with nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurses need more than praise to cope with pandemic, say professors

Despite public displays of thanks, many nurses working on the front lines of COVID-19 are not getting the support they need, according to a group of researchers at the University of Windsor.

Professors Jody Ralph and Laurie Freeman of nursing and Dana Ménard and Kendall Soucie of psychology sought to understand how nurses in a border city felt about working during the pandemic. In interviews with nurses working in health-care settings in Windsor or Detroit, the researchers heard about mental health concerns, difficulties coping, and substantial dissatisfaction with the level of support provided by their hospitals.

The team outlines its findings in an article published Sunday in the Conversation, which shares news and views from the academic and research community.

“Nurses expressed appreciation regarding the community responses (for example, clapping, food donations, skipping lines at businesses) but also felt a lot of stigma as potential disease carriers,” the piece says.

“Many reported sleep issues, nightmares, fatigue, increased irritability, increased alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating habits, and use of sleep aids and cannabis. Many self-isolated from their families and missed out on the day-to-day moments and key developmental milestones of their children.”

The authors conclude that the profession needs solutions that go beyond a pat on the back to address unsafe working conditions and offer practical effective support.

Read the entire piece, “Heroes, or just doing our job? The impact of COVID-19 on registered nurses in a border city,” in the Conversation.