Oncology nurses, who are already prone to chronic stress, experienced alterations in their work-related quality of life (WRQOL) during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent study.
Ijeoma Julie Eche, PhD, MPH, of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of psychological distress and WRQOL among 63 oncology nurses from June 1, 2020 to July 27, 2020. Nurses were from the solid, hematologic malignancy, and bone marrow transplant units at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA.
Nurses were contacted by email to participate in an online survey, which took 20-30 minutes to complete. They completed the 21-item Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), which measures depression, anxiety, and stress using a four-point Likert-type scale ranging from 0 to 3 and the Impact of Events Scale-Revised, a 22-item scale that measures PTSD symptoms using a five-point Likert-type scale. Total scores range from 0 to 88, with higher scores indicating the presence of severe PTSD symptoms.
The mean DASS score was 33.4, showing low depression levels, mild anxiety, and mild stress. The mean PTSD score was 29.3. Mean WRQOL was 78.8. WRQOL was negatively correlated to PTSD, as well as anxiety, depression, and stress. Nurses’ anxiety, depression, and stress were strongly correlated to PTSD.
“Self-confidence and knowledge may lessen the chronic distress oncology nurses face while providing care, and working to minimize psychosocial difficulties for patients with cancer may in turn mitigate oncology nurses’ own poor psychosocial health, particularly during the pandemic,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers also noted that the study is limited because psychosocial distress was self-reported, “which is prone to a social desirability bias and may lead to systematic misreporting.” Additionally, a wide range of factors, including personal, contextual, and predictors of professional quality of life could influence negative emotional states among nurses.
“Early integration of nurse-level psychosocial interventions may mitigate distress and improve coping, allowing oncology nurses to better adapt to work stressors,” the researchers concluded. “Psychological adaptation in oncology nurses may increase their resilience and improve their WRQOL.”
Eche IL, Eche IM, Aronowitz TB. Psychological distress and work-related quality of life among oncology nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study. CJON 2022, 26(3), 268-274. DOI: 10.1188/22.CJON.268-274