A study to develop, pilot and evaluate a sustainable model of online peer support for newly qualified nurses

Natalie Webster A study to develop, pilot and evaluate a sustainable model of online peer support for newly qualified nurses – Analisa Smythe, Natalie Webster and Catharine Jenkins

Newly qualified nurses (NQN’s) are particularly vulnerable during the first few years of their careers and have reported experiences of being overwhelmed, stressed and even intimidated. These negative feelings leave NQN’s at high risk for early career burnout and leaving the profession; it is therefore imperative that strategies to improve retention for newly qualified nurses become a priority. Our study is a collaborative endeavour between Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) with the aim of developing, piloting and evaluating a model of online peer support for newly qualified nurses delivered via smartphone technology.

Our study team includes: Analisa Smythe Project Lead, BSMHFT; Natalie Webster Research Assistant, BSMHFT; Catharine Jenkins, Senior Lecturer Birmingham City University; Dr Peter Bentham, BSMHFT and Professor Jan Oyebode, University of Bradford. We have recently obtained Health Research Authority (HRA) approval for the study and have commenced the first phase of our project; this involves focus groups with NQN’s in order to find out if an online support group would be beneficial for them, and if so, what it might look like. So far, Cathy (BCU), Analisa (BSMHFT) and Nat (BSMHFT) have conducted 2 focus groups with 15 nurses and the findings of these interviews have been very helpful in refining the final design of the peer support intervention. By involving newly qualified staff in the design of the intervention, it is hoped that the online support network will be useful and valuable to this population of nursing staff and be a means of sharing practical information alongside offering social and emotional support.

The second phase of our project will begin in September 2018 and will involve recruiting newly qualified nurses who have completed their preceptorship year to join online peer support groups comprised of around 10-15 people. These groups will be accessible for 6 months, after which point, all participants will be asked to complete an evaluation of the online support via quantitative measures and focus group interviews.  We shall be inviting mental health nurses from Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust and general nurses from University Hospitals Birmingham to participate in our study.

We believe it is important that the psychological wellbeing of nurses is seriously addressed as more nurses are now leaving than joining the profession as a result of a complex range of factors; some of which have been highlighted as workplace stress and feelings of burnout. A peer-led online intervention to support the emotional and social wellbeing of newly qualified nurses could offer a sustainable and accessible means of promoting psychological wellbeing in this staff group and potential mediate such negative feelings and increase intention to stay in the profession.

If you would like to learn more about our project or get involved please contact Analisa Smythe on 0121 301 2069 or email a.smythe@nhs.net

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