1. In this randomized control trial, newly graduated nurses received a cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)-based programme on improving sleep and recovery strategies, which improved somatic symptoms such as headaches and back pain.

2. Additionally, there was less burn-out and fatigue symptoms in participants post intervention; however, these effects did not last 6 months post-intervention.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

New healthcare workers are at risk of experiencing high levels of stress as they enter the workforce. This can affect sleep due to homeostatic imbalance and circadian disruption, especially in the context of healthcare shift work. There is a paucity of literature examining interventions which promote recovery other than sleep. Supporting recovery may be beneficial for unwinding from stress, handling fatigue, and promoting sleep. This randomized control trial (RCT) sought to determine whether a group-administered recovery programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy could prevent sleep problems, fatigue, burn-out and somatic symptoms.

This study conducted an RCT which randomly allocated participants to the recovery programme intervention (n=99) and a non-intervention control group (n=108). Newly registered nurses (RNs) with less than 12 months of experience across eight hospitals in Sweden were recruited. The intervention group received three, 2.5-hour long group sessions focused on proactive strategies to improve sleep and recovery from shift work as well as work stress. After the intervention, subjective questionnaires for sleep, burn-out, work fatigue, and somatic symptoms were given to participants. At 6 months, these questionnaires were repeated at a follow-up session with the study participants.

Overall, this study demonstrated that the intervention group reported less somatic, burn-out, and insomnia symptoms. At the 6 month-follow up, only somatic symptoms remained decreased in the intervention group. Perceived stress and subjective tension were not improved with the intervention. However, this study was limited by self-selection bias towards nurses with motivation to participate. The study may also not be able to be extrapolated to other healthcare professionals. Nonetheless, this study provides evidence that a group-administered recovery programme may be helpful to prevent somatic symptoms and reduce burn-out symptoms amongst newly graduated RNs.

Click to read the study in Occupational & Environmental Medicine 

Image: PD

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