New research from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London – and published in The Lancet Psychiatry, has found that healthcare workers (HCWs) experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at twice the rate of the general public.
The research was co-authored by March on Stress Managing Director and Professor of Defence Mental Health at King’s, Professor Neil Greenberg.
It was conducted as part of a study to establish a more accurate prevalence of mental disorders within the NHS workforce.
Researchers found that self-reporting screening measures used in other studies showed very high prevalences of common mental disorders (CMDs) like depression and anxiety, and PTSD (52.8% and 25.4% respectively), the diagnostic interview used in the King’s study showed the prevalences to be considerably lower - 21.5% for CMDs and 7.9% for PTSD. While it is a significant drop, researchers say that these lower and more accurate figures still show that more than 1-in-5 HCWs have a diagnosable mental disorder with rates of PTSD being around double those found amongst the general public.
Professor Greenberg said: “These results thankfully show that the often scary rates of common mental disorders and PTSD, reported in less well constructed studies, are inaccurate. It is important to distinguish between the large numbers of NHS staff who may be experiencing distress, and the smaller, but still very important numbers, who are likely to benefit from professional care. The NHS should not ignore these results, which show that a sizeable proportion of NHS staff have diagnosable mental health conditions, and are likely be functionally impaired, increasing the likelihood of poor care delivery, accidents, and other undesirable outcomes for patients, themselves, and colleagues”.
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