Doctoral students publish study on nurse mental health

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Two doctoral candidates in the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering have used their knowledge of occupational safety to recently explore the mental health of nurses in Alabama hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Duha Ali and Yasin Fatemi recently co-published their first paper in the “Frontiers in Public Health” journal which investigates the impact of organizational and community support on nurse stressor levels, physio-psychosocial responses and coping strategies employed.

The paper, “Investigating Frontline Nurse Stress: Perceptions of Job Demands, Organizational Support, and Social Support During the Current COVID-19 Pandemic,” was a collaboration with Associate Professor Haneen Ali.

“This research project originated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ethical dilemma nurses faced during the pandemic,” Haneen Ali said. “From an ethical perspective, nurses may experience moral injury or trauma as they must balance their perceived responsibility to safeguard patient welfare with the fear and anxiety resulting from risking infection, the spread of the infection outside of the hospital setting and feeling threatened or, at times, compromised due to resource shortages.”

A cross-sectional survey was developed for the study and a total of 232 frontline nurses responded to 79 items in four domains: stressors, physio-psychosocial symptoms, coping and support. The study was conducted between May 6, 2020, and June 30, 2020. A two-way ANOVA, regression analysis and mediation of effects were used to analyze the data.

Duha Ali added that the study of this topic is important because it also provides an understanding of the impact of social support and coping support on the reduction of physio-psychosocial symptoms, and a better understanding of how the generational context affects nurses’ perceptions of various approaches and levels of support.

“The results of the study were as expected,” she said. “Both social support and use of coping strategies contributed to the reduction of physio-psychosocial symptoms.”

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