Occupational stress is an emotional, perceptual, behavioral, and physiological reaction to unfavorable work, organization, and professional environment aspects. For medical staff and especially for nurses, it can manifest itself as burnout. It can be caused by staff or patient attitudes, increased workload, fear of removal from position, and low turnover (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). Working conditions create stress and lead to burnout and a reluctance to engage in medical activities (Maresca et al., 2022). Purpose of the paper: to determine the effectiveness of implementing coping strategies of social and emotional support to overcome burnout among nurses.
Burnout affects judgment, attitudes, and perception and worsens the physical status of nurses, including various psychosomatic manifestations. One of the critical ways for nurses to overcome professional burnout is through coping behaviors expressed through their choice of coping strategies. Among the most effective coping strategies, it is possible to allocate a search for social and emotional support (Betke et al., 2021). It is being implemented as an educational tool to allow staff to feel free to exercise their judgment. Nurses can share experiences in individual or group meetings to deal with burnout by releasing emotions (Ali et al., 2022). The action plan will include distributing supporting resource materials and referrals to counseling.
The advantages of the emotional and social support strategy are its accessibility and breadth. Social supports have a positive effect on stressors, gradually eliminating anxiety. Emotional release and sharing of emotions allow for relief from burdens and sharing experiences, i.e., refreshing the mind (Maresca et al., 2022). In addition, it is noted that this strategy has a positive effect on health and eliminates the adverse effects of stress and burnout (Betke et al., 2021). This strategy also reduces the value of the emotional response to work stress (Huang et al., 2020). The advantage is the ability to provide all nurses with the same amount of resources but to adjust and direct counseling depending on the type of setting.
Despite the prevalence of the emotional and social strategy, its effectiveness may not be demonstrated. Limitations include the gender and age of the nurses (Ali et al., 2022): for example, Huang et al. (2020) indicate that women are less likely to use emotional strategies. Maresca et al. (2022) suggest that social support can be a stumbling block because the nurses will feel tired and unable to communicate with other people in the organization. At the same time, the difficulty in defining the nurse’s emotional boundaries can be a limitation. Not all staff is willing to share the problem, so low engagement is expected.
Implementing emotional and social support strategies among nurses can risk limiting their ability to work overall. Engaging nurses in the approach can help by limiting the traumatic factor for a while. However, this may be difficult in the context of increased workload in the post-pandemic. In addition, as previously argued, there is the possibility of low study engagement (Huang et al., 2020). Perhaps nurses also tend to use short-term and long-term ways of coping with stress.
Ethical concerns may be related to the dissemination of implementation results. Because nurses’ emotions and personal problems, such as patient behavior, fall under doctor-patient confidentiality, there is the issue of transforming the results and handling them. In addition, it is an issue of privacy and negligence regarding the information that will need to be provided. Also, we should be more careful about determining the social value of the research and implementing it in the work environment.
An emotional and social support strategy is expected to bridge the gap between staff and patients. It will allow nurses to overcome burnout and return to welcoming and pleasant interactions with staff (Ali et al., 2022). Social support from the team and family and sharing emotional experiences will improve attitudes toward work and bring back the love of work. As a result, patients will regain their ability to communicate with nurses and see them as accomplices (White et al., 2019). Treatment of patients will return to a reasonable level and show a positive trend in reducing the length of hospital stays.
Evaluation of Results
Outcome evaluation will consist of post-implementation surveys of the strategy. In addition, a quantitative assessment of the data will be included, followed by processing of the frequency of occurrence of burnout signs. Qualitative data should also be identified, and factors that will influence the adoption of the strategy should be assessed. There will be a comparison of the amount of burden (quantitative data) with the frequency of emotional support strategy choice (qualitative). It should also be included in the possibility of assessing the level of correlation of burnout after strategy adoption in the context of working conditions. For example, factors of salary increase or turnover reduction (Dall’Ora et al., 2020). It is expected that the measurement of results will be long, with the potential inclusion of additional research or a survey of participants.
Thus, the issue of nurse burnout results from increased work stresses arising from working and hiring conditions and relationships within the organization and with patients. To overcome burnout, emotional and social support strategies can create a safe work environment and share experiences. The benefits are proven to have positive effects on health and a decrease in the impact of responding to work stress (Huang et al., 2020). Although limitations in the form of incomplete engagement may exist, they can be addressed by expanding coverage. The proposed strategy is expected to change staff attitudes toward work, and at the same time, changing workload metrics will improve the effectiveness of patient interactions.
Ali, H., Fatemi, Y., Ali, D., Hamasha, M., & Hamasha, S. (2022). Investigating frontline nurse stress: Perceptions of job demands, organizational support, and social support during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Public Health.
Betke, K., Basińska, M.A. & Andruszkiewicz, A. (2021). Sense of coherence and strategies for coping with stress among nurses. BMC Nursing, 20(107).
Dall’Ora, C., Ball, J., Reinius, M., & Griffiths, P. (2020). Burnout in nursing: a theoretical review. Human Resources for Health, 18(41).
Huang, L., Lei, W., Xu, F., Liu, H., & Yu, L. (2020). Emotional responses and coping strategies in nurses and nursing students during Covid-19 outbreak: A comparative study. PloS one, 15(8).
Maresca, G., Corallo, F., Catanese, G., Formica, C., & Lo Buono, V. (2022). Coping strategies of healthcare professionals with burnout syndrome: A systematic review. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 58(2), 327.
White, E. M., Aiken, L. H., & McHugh, M. D. (2019). Registered nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction, and missed care in nursing homes. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67(10), 2065–2071.