The prevalence and impact of post traumatic stress disorder and burnout syndrome in nurses

Depress Anxiety. 2009;26(12):1118-26. doi: 10.1002/da.20631.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Burnout, Professional / nursing*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Colorado
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Administrators / psychology
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Physician-Nurse Relations
  • Social Environment
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / nursing*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Trauma Centers