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School of Nursing doctoral student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health fellow, has been selected for a NIOSH Pilot/Small Training Grant for nearly $10,000.Paula Levi, a
The grant helps fund Levi’s dissertation research studying stress among intensive care unit nurses in the workplace. Levi selected her research focus of ICU nurses with post-traumatic stress disorder from trauma experienced in the workplace following her own experience as an ICU nurse, as well as an understanding of the high level of stress nurses can experience at work.
Through her study, Levi will observe events the nurses experience as they work in the ICU and gather data on their heart rate variability. Levi will then connect the two datapoints to see how different events and circumstances impact heart rate variability and stress levels.
According to Levi, this research has become more important than ever since the onset of the novel coronavirus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the deadliest pandemics in history, and we expect the incidence of PTSD will be unprecedented,” Levi said. “While I always sought to pursue this topic, there is a much greater need now that COVID-19 has impacted so many nurses.”
In addition to the stress experienced by nurses and their risk of PTSD, hospitals can also experience the negative impact of stress. When ICU nurses suffer from PTSD, Levi notes, it can adversely affect their health and impact patient care. This stress can also lead to low retention rates and absenteeism, situations that Levi hopes to develop interventions to combat.