WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Compared with other U.S. workers, nurses were at a higher risk for suicidal ideation before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Nursing.

Elizabeth A. Kelsey, D.N.P., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues used data from a national survey of 7,378 nurses and 5,198 general U.S. workforce members to assess the prevalence of suicidal ideation and attitudes toward help-seeking.

The researchers found that 5.5 percent of nurses reported having suicidal ideation within the past year and that most nurses (84.2 percent) indicated willingness to seek professional help for a serious emotional problem. However, nurses with suicidal ideation were less likely to report that they would seek such help versus nurses without suicidal ideation (72.6 versus 85 percent). After controlling for other personal and professional characteristics, the researchers found that burnout was strongly associated with suicidal ideation among nurses. Nurses were more likely than other workers to have suicidal ideation. Like nurses, other workers who reported suicidal ideation were less likely to seek help than those who did not report ideation.

“While the findings of our study are serious enough, we recognize the impact of the current pandemic has dramatically compounded the situation,” a coauthor said in a statement. “The need for system-level interventions to improve the work lives of nurses and other members of the health care team is greater than ever before.”

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