Objective: To determine whether post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and burnout syndrome (BOS) are common in nurses, and whether the co-existence of PTSD and BOS is associated with altered perceptions of work and nonwork-related activities.
Methods: University hospital nurses were administered four validated psychological questionnaires.
Results: The response rate was 41% (332/810). Twenty two percent (73/332) had symptoms of PTSD, 18% (61/332) met diagnostic criteria for PTSD, and 86% (277/323) met criteria for BOS. Ninety eight percent (59/60) of those fulfilling diagnostic criteria for PTSD were positive for BOS. When grouped into three categories: positive for PTSD and BOS (n=59), positive for BOS and negative for PTSD (n=217), and negative for both BOS and PTSD (n=46), there were significant differences in the years of employment as a nurse (P<.0001), perceptions of collaborative nursing care (P=.006), confidence in physicians (P=.01), and perception that their work impacted patient outcomes (P=.01). Nurses with BOS and PTSD were significantly more likely to have difficulty in their life outside of the work environment when compared to those with BOS alone.
Conclusions: We identified that PTSD and BOS are common in nurses and those with PTSD will almost uniformly have symptoms of BOS. Co-existence of PTSD and BOS has a dramatic effect on work and nonwork related activities and perceptions.