Lindsay Haskett is a predoctoral student in the IU School of Nursing. The unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed nurses across the world to secondary traumatic stress (STS). Nursing in many situations is a high-stress environment, and nurses can experience mental health problems when working in high-pressure or high-risk scenarios, like the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, as nurses were working on the frontlines, they were being labeled “heroes” and “essential workers”. While recognition for their role during the pandemic is warranted, they were witnessing death and suffering of patients in a new way.
Many studies have examined nurses’ mental health and emotional experiences during the pandemic. However, none have measured STS and compared it among nurses in multiple countries. Lindsay Haskett and her research team wanted to describe the severity of STS among nurses caring for COVID-19 patients during the initial pandemic wave, compare the severity of STS among nurses from the United States, China, and Kenya, and describe nurses’ perceptions of their experiences caring for COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. Gaining a better understanding of the physical and emotional effects of caregiving for COVID-19 patients in this context is essential to inform practical support for nurses throughout all stages of the pandemic and in the future.
In her free time, Lindsay Haskett enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends.
How can nurses' experiences of secondary traumatic stress inform healthcare leaders to support nurses in future times of crisis?Lindsay Haskett
Q and A with Lindsay Haskett
The long-term implications of the effects of the pandemic on the nursing profession are still to be determined. We found mild STS among nurses with a higher level of education and those who perceived they had adequate PPE. Nurses perceived the healthcare system failed to respond to the pandemic, struggled to interact with others outside of work, and shared positive feelings about the pandemic experience. Holistic interventions are needed to mitigate STS and other detriments to the mental health of nurses caring for COVID-19 patients. This study’s findings will help inform policy and interventions to improve the support provided to nurses during high-pressure or high-risk situations.
This research was meaningful because it was conducted virtually across multiple countries with our counterparts at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. We used social media to recruit participants to the study, an innovative recruitment method. Additionally, this was the first time nurses across the globe were experiencing something novel simultaneously. Studying nurses’ experiences in three countries during the first pandemic of my generation’s lifetime was unique and interesting.
This phenomenon of interest in this study impacts nurses at all healthcare institutions. There is a shortage of nurses in many hospitals in the state of Indiana, and the impact of the pandemic has detrimental implications for patient care related to staffing shortages. Without support from leadership in the form of adequate resources and effective mental health resources, bedside nurses cannot perfom their duties to the best of their abilities. Citing nurses lived experiences is the first step to acknowledging challenges nurses are facing and identifying effective interventions to improve mental health resources for nurses.
We have submitted this study for publication, and I am hopeful this study will inform nursing leaders who advocate for bedside nurses to have the support they need to provide patients with the best care possible.
Conversation with Lindsay Haskett
On Friday, May 27, 2022 from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. Lindsay Haskett gave a virtual presentation about her work on “Experiences of Secondary Traumatic Stress by Nurses Caring for COVID-19 Patients in Three Countries.” During this discussion, she shared findings from her research that she hopes will help healthcare systems better support nurses during future times of crisis.
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