24/10/2008

Overcrowding in hospital wards increases andtidepressant use among personnel

Overcrowding in terms of high bed occupancy increases antidepressant use among
hospital personnel, says recent research coordinated by the Finnish Institute
of Occupational Health. The study has been published online in the high-quality
American Journal of Psychiatry.

"This study suggests that patient overcrowding increases mental disorders
requiring medication, such as depression, among employees", says special
researcher Marianna Virtanen from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
"Risk for depression seems to increase after at least six months' patient
overcrowding".

Study included 7340 employees from the Finnish specialized health care between
years 2000 and 2004

Participating hospitals routinely collect monthly figures on bed occupancy for
each ward ac-cording to the procedure set by the National Research and
Development Centre for Health and Welfare. Bed occupancy is calculated as the
ratio between the sum of inpatient days and the number of beds available), and
expressed as a percentage. Because the patient's day of discharge is not
included in the statistics, 85% bed occupancy rate has been considered to be at
the level of normal capacity in the somatic illnesses bed wards.

In the Work and Health in Finnish Hospital Personnel study coordinated by the
Finnish Insti-tute of Occupational health, data were collected from altoghether
203 bed wards providing specialized health care for somatic illnesses in 16
hospitals. Monthly bed occupancy statistics were linked to data on 7340
employees, including dates for job contracts and comprehensive daily data on
purchased antidepressant prescriptions obtained from the National Insurance
Institution between years 2000 and 2004. 91% employees were nurses and 9% were
physicians.

High bed occupancy predicted onset of antidepressant medication
The higher the bed occupancy rate was at the ward during the preceding six
months, the higher was the risk of new-onset antidepressant use among
employees. More than 10 percentage units above the standard level increased the
risk of antidepressant use by 1.7 times. Similar result was found when a
six-months' "non-treatment" period was taken into account.

"Earlier international studies have shown that patient overoccupancy at the
hospitals increases averse patient outcomes and decreases patient satisfaction.
This study indicates that over-crowding may also have an adverse effect on the
mental health of hospital staff" says professor Mika Kivimki from the Finnish
Institute of Occupational Health. "It is therefore important to monitor bed
occupancy rates at hospital wards. Prevention of long-term over-occupancy is a
common interest".

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AplusA-online.de - Source: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH)