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Fostering positive emotions, psychological well-being, and productive relationships in the intensive care unit: A before-and-after study

Published:September 13, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aucc.2022.08.001

      Abstract

      Background

      Intensive care units (ICUs) are emotionally demanding workplaces. Exposure to stress can negatively impact ICU staff members' emotional resilience, health, and capacity to provide care. Despite recognition of the benefits of promoting “healthy workplaces”, there are limited interventional studies aimed at improving the well-being of ICU staff.

      Aim

      The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a multifaceted intervention for improving well-being of staff working in a tertiary ICU.

      Methods

      A before-and-after interventional study was conducted over a 2-year period, between 2019 and 2021. Interventions included social activities, fitness, nutrition, and emotional support. An electronic version of the PERMA-Profiler questionnaire was used to assess the well-being of a convenience sample of ICU staff before (n = 96) and after (n = 137) the intervention. Ten focus groups (each involving 12–18 nurses) were held to explore nurses' perceptions of the intervention's effectiveness.

      Results

      After the intervention, a significantly greater proportion of participants described their work week as draining (32% vs 19%, χ2 = 4.4 df + 1, P = 0.03) and at least a bit harder than normal (38% vs 22%, χ2 = 6.4 df + 1, p = 0.01) compared to baseline surveys. However, well-being scores after the intervention (mean = 6.95, standard deviation = 1.28) were not statistically different (p = 0.68) from baseline scores (mean = 7.02, standard deviation = 1.29). Analysis of focus groups data revealed three key categories: boosting morale and fostering togetherness, supporting staff, and barriers to well-being.

      Conclusions

      After the intervention, there was a preserved level of well-being from baseline despite a statistically significant increase in staff reporting the work week as draining and at least a little bit harder than normal. These findings must be considered in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which started after baseline data collection and continues to impact the community, including staff workload and pressures in intensive care. The study findings may inform strategies for improving ICU staff members' well-being.

      Keywords

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