The Covid-19 pandemic devastated many nurses’ mental health, and workplace racism made it worse, two recent studies find
Shannon Simonovich and Kashica Webber-Ritchey and other faculty and students at DePaul interviewed nurses.
The study’s findings are supported by another study from Rutgers University, which found that nurses of color were suffering from a “dual pandemic” because of the emotional distress caused by Covid-19 and workplace racism.
In September 2020, during a lull in the pandemic, the researchers surveyed nearly 800 nurses working in acute-care hospitals in New Jersey. Participants completed online questionnaires that asked about indicators of emotional distress, Covid-19 worry and concerns, workplace racial climate, workplace racial microaggression experiences, and demographic information. The study, published in Behavioral Medicine, concluded the following:
- Nonwhite nurses reported significantly higher levels of emotional distress and overall worry about Covid-19.
- A higher percentage of nonwhite nurses (61%) were very worried about Covid compared with the percentage of white nurses (41%) who were very worried.
- Nonwhite nurses perceived more negative racial climates, with Black nurses reporting the most negative climates.
- Nonwhite nurses experienced more racial microaggression experiences, and Black nurses experienced the highest number of racial microaggressions compared with all other racial groups.
Both study authors expressed how important nurses’ psychological needs are. “Taking time to speak to nurses to understand their needs and provide support would help with addressing moral distress,” Webber-Ritchey said.