« 2. Resilience training helps ICU nurses »

Written by Rachel Green, Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

I have provided emotional intelligence training for nurses in an emergency department of a major hospital and know how tough the job is. I have also worked in a hospital. The work of a nurse in emergency or an intensive care unit is hard, emotionally complex and difficult. Most of us would be worn down by the work and environment very quickly.

It seems obvious, therefore, that resilience training would be of benefit to such nurses. However, what resilience training works best?

In order to apply for funding for such training, or to allocate time and resources to it, there needs to be scientific evidence that resilience training does significantly benefit such nurses and the type of training that is most effective needs to be identified, and understood.

Research on resilience training for nurses

I was, therefore, highly interested in a research article published in the American Journal of Critical Care in November 2014, which has found that resilience training does help intensive care unit (ICU) nurses cope with their stressful work.

Although it is only preliminary work, it does consider specific aspects of resilience training and measure their impact after a 12 week intervention.

Here is a brief review of some of the pivotal aspects of the study. A full reference for the study is given at the end. 

Resilience is an important aspect of emotional intelligence and one that seems to becoming increasingly important in an ever pressured world and workplace.

This study is therefore of interest to many different occupations and not just nurses.

Resilience training research subjects

Two groups of nurses were selected and were eligible to participate if they:

  1. Were currently working 20 hours per week at the ICU bedside,
  2. Had no underlying medical condition that would be a contraindication to exercise, and
  3. Scored 82 or less on the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC).

Twenty nurses were involved: 14 were randomized to the intervention group and 15 were randomized to the control group.

Resilience research assessments

Participants completed:

  1. The Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC).
  2. The Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS) .
  3. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) .
  4. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI).
  5. The Client/Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire-8 (CSQ-8).

Participants were asked to complete questionnaires before and within 1 week after the intervention. 

The pre-study questionnaires demonstrated that:

  • 100% of the nurses were positive for symptoms of anxiety (HADS score ≥8).
  • 77% were positive for symptoms of depression (HADS score ≥8).
  • 81% were positive for emotional exhaustion.
  • 77% were positive for depersonalization.
  • 77% were positive for a decrease in personal accomplishment.
  • 44% of the ICU nurses met the diagnostic criteria for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Resilience research intervention

The intervention consisted of:

  1. Two-Day Educational Workshop.
  2. Written Exposure Therapy.
  3. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, (MBSR).
  4. Exercise.
  5. Event-Triggered Counseling Sessions.

Resilience research results

There is a lengthy analysis of the results obtained in the study in the written article published by the authors, and each of the individual five interventions are analysed separately. Recommendations are made with regards to future emotional resilience training and how the program could be improved. This alone is of value to anyone deciding to design their own resilience training programs for stressed nurses. Please go to the full report to find out all the details (see below). 

However, it was of particular interest that:

  1. Nurses in the intervention group had a significant reduction in symptoms of depression (P = .03) when compared with nurses assigned to the control group.
  2. Both the intervention group and the control group had a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms (treatment P = .01; control P = .02).
  3. Both the intervention group and the control group had improved resilience scores (treatment P = .05; control P = .03; Table 2).

Resilience research further details

Feasibility and Acceptability of a Resilience Training Program for Intensive Care Unit Nurses

Meredith Mealer, David Conrad, John Evans, Karen Jooste, Janet Solyntjes, Barbara Rothbaum & Marc Moss.

American Journal of Critical Care: November 2014 Vol. 23 no. 6. 97-105.

The full study is available here.

Featured Video

The three pillars of emotional resilience: The opening chapter from the emotional resilience DVDs

How high is your emotional intelligence & resilience?

When the pressure mounts make sure your team have the skills to stay resilient, to bounce back from setbacks, and to stay at ease, be effective and thrive. There is so much that you can do to develop your emotional resilience and the E.I. Institute has a number of options to help you:

  1. There are top quality CDs, books and DVDs, including the very practical 2 DVD program: "How to develop emotional resilience and manage your emotions".
  2. There are high energy, interactive and practical emotional intelligence workshops, of particular relevance here is "How to be emotionally resilient and thrive".
  3. There is an entertaining speech "The three pillars of emotional resileince - or should that be four?".

For more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.