Depressive symptoms among Chinese nurses: prevalence and the associated factors


L. Wang: e-mail:


gao y.-q., pan b.-c., sun w., wu h., wang j.-n. & wang l. (2011) Depressive symptoms among Chinese nurses: prevalence and the associated factors. Journal of Advanced Nursing 68(5), 1166–1175.


Aim.  This article is a report of exploration of depressive symptoms and the associated factors among Chinese nurses working at public city hospitals.

Background.  Hospital nurses are known to work in psychologically and physically demanding work environment, which may lead to depressive symptoms. However, little research has been done to address this problem in Chinese nurses.

Methods.  A cross-sectional survey was carried out in seven randomly selected city hospitals of Liaoning Province, northeast of China in 2009. Depressive symptoms of the nurses were measured with the Chinese version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Job Content Questionnaire and the effort-reward imbalance, demographic features, life style and work conditions were measured as the related factors.

Results.  A total of 1592 nurses participated in the study and the effective response rate was 79·5%. The prevalence of depressive symptoms among the nurses was 61·7% (= 886), of whom 74·9% (= 664) had mild depressive symptoms. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that lower job rank, higher over commitment, alcohol consumption, worse nurse–patient relationship and higher education background were positively associated with depressive symptoms, whereas supervisor support, taking regular meals, doing physical exercises, higher skill discretion and higher job satisfaction were negatively associated with depressive symptoms.

Conclusion.  More than half of the Chinese nurses had depressive symptoms. As depressive symptoms may adversely affect quality of life and quality of care, consultation for the nurses with healthy life styles, work stress coping techniques and advice to administrator to improve social aspects of the work environment might be helpful to reduce the depressive symptoms in nurses.