Empathy for Patients Takes Toll on Nurses

According to Jenny Watts, a positive psychologist at the University of Leicester, “nurses who identify with the patient and experience empathy appear to be most vulnerable to distress,” developing symptoms like flashbacks, sleeping problems, and emotional detachment.
Of particular note: Watts found that nurses who cared for patients with age-related illnesses, such as dementia, “have shown anxiety and depression following patient deterioration and death.” As baby boomers age and the number of older patients grows, she says, it will be important to take steps to ensure that nurses’ morale, compassion, and quality of care remain high. —Heather Wax

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