depression among healthcare workers

G – Please respond to this post with one paragraph an two citations to this post



Working in healthcare is arguably one of the most stressful careers: over 85% of nurses polled in a recent study agreed that they experience significant stress and/or anxiety at work (Machova et al, 2019; Jones-Schneck, 2020). This tension has been amplified among healthcare workers during the novel challenges the covid-19 pandemic has created. A solution to remedy this rampant burnout and unrest is desperately needed to salvage the healthcare workforce (Jones-Schneck, 2020). Research shows that animal assisted therapy (AAT) can be used to reduce anxiety. And depression among healthcare workers and has been shown to decrease levels of burnout (Machova et al., 2019). As both an animal lover and someone who has seen AAT successfully used to improve the health of my patients, it led me to the clinical inquiry of whether AAT can be used to decrease stress and burnout among healthcare workers in a hospital setting.

In daily practice, nurses are constantly forming hypothetical clinical inquiries in their minds in order to provide patients with the highest level of care (Laureate Education, 2018). Davies (2011) describes questions as “the driving force behind evidence based practice (EBP)” (p. 75). Healthcare workers who are motivated to improve patient care and the work environment are continuously creating questions, whether hypothetical or for research purposes (Laureate Education, 2018). Forming a PICOT question is the first step in the research process as it helps narrow down and organize important inquiries (Melnyck & Fineout-Overhault, 2018). The PICOT question I formulated for this discussion is: In adult healthcare workers ages 18-75 working in a hospital setting, how does the use of animal assisted therapy (AAT) compared with no intervention effect levels of stress and burnout?

literary searches

Several methods can be used to ensure literary searches produce the best. And most relevant data while encompassing the widest selection of articles. To begin my research. I used the CINAHL Plus with Full Text database and chose the limit words “animal assisted therapy”. And “healthcare workers”. To ensure the results were both relevant and rigorous, I changed the search options to display only full text, peer reviewed research conducted since 2016 (Walden University, n.d.).

This initial search resulted in only one single article, which was obviously not sufficient to gather data. To remedy the low number of resulting articles, I revisited the original CINAHL page. And used the Boolean phrase option to change my search terms to include “animal assisted therapy. Or pet therapy or animal therapy or animal intervention or animal assisted activity”. And “healthcare workers or healthcare professional or healthcare provider or healthcare personnel or doctor or nurse”.

Boolean phrases

The “and” connector in Boolean phrase terms is a restrictive search term to ensure both phrases are included in the results, whereas “or” allows one or the other to be included (Melnyck & Fineout-Overhault, 2018). Boolean phrases, such as these, are useful to broaden search results; indeed, the second search resulted in 48 articles, 23 of which were relevant to my clinical question, versus one in the first search (Melnyck & Fineout-Overhault, 2018). To refine my search even further, I reviewed the subject headings of the ten resulting articles. And tried adding in a third limit: “burnout or burn-out or burn out or stress. Or occupational stress or compassionate fatigue”. This changed my results to only six articles, however. Two were different from the second search so although the addition of a third limit word narrowed my results. It did help in data collection (Walden University, n.d.).

After using CINAHL, I searched the PubMed database, which is simple to use. And holds a wealth of information on clinical phenomenon (Laureate Education, 2018). I searched PubMed for “healthcare workers + animal assisted therapy + burnout”. Which resulted in five articles, one of which was different from the results of CINAHL. To increase the number of articles, I removed “burnout” from the search terms. And ended up with 40 articles, 15 of which were relevant to my research inquiry. Pubmed allows the useful option to refine search results by article type. Which is helpful when searching for a specific research method, such as a systematic review.

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