Posted October 12, 2018 07:14:50A new study has found that specialty pharmacies with a high proportion of women are more at risk for mental health problems, depression and suicide.
The study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University at Buffalo examined the mental health and suicide outcomes of more than 2,000 nurses and pharmacy technicians at four of the nation’s largest specialty pharmacies, including Spartan Pharmacy School, Sparco Pharmacy and Blue Cross Pharmacy.
The researchers looked at a wide range of mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, substance use disorders, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, and suicide ideation.
They also looked at suicide attempts by staff members, patients and non-staff.
They found that among the women at the top three specialty pharmacies in terms of the percentage of women in their staff, one-third had experienced mental health issues.
The study authors note that this is a fairly low proportion compared to other industries, but it still shows the prevalence of mental disorders in a specialty pharmacy is higher than the general population.
“We found a very strong link between having a female nurse or pharmacy technician and an increased risk for depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm,” said Dr. Joanna DeGroot, a professor in the UW-Madison School of Medicine’s Department of Nursing and Public Health.
The findings are in a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health on Monday.
“There’s no doubt that women have higher rates of depression and substance use,” said DeGroots, who led the research.
“This could be due to the stigma associated with mental health care in general.
In this case, however, it may also be due in part to a culture that promotes the use of prescription medications.”
The researchers say that this could be because many women in the specialty industry work for a company with a higher pay scale, which may make them more inclined to prescribe the same drugs and services as their male colleagues.
In the study, the researchers looked for gender differences in outcomes including suicide attempts.
They found that in general, female nurses had more mental health concerns than their male counterparts, but that the relationship wasn’t as strong for the most common mental health problem.
“This could reflect that women are perceived as more vulnerable and are therefore more likely, in this case at least, to seek help,” said John A. Shih, an assistant professor of nursing and public health at UW-Milwaukee and the study’s senior author.
“The study found a link between mental health in general and the presence of women working in specialty pharmacy environments,” said Shih.
“However, this relationship was only significant in women, not men.”
The study also looked for other variables that could be linked to the mental well-being of female employees.
One of the findings was that the risk for suicide ideations was higher among female nurses than male employees.
This could indicate that female nurses may be more likely than their female colleagues to engage in suicidal thoughts, according to DeGrose.
“Women are also more likely (to) engage in non-medical behaviors that could exacerbate depression, such as substance abuse, self-mutilation, suicide attempts or alcohol abuse,” she said.
Dr. Robert W. Gollnick, chair of the Department of Medicine at the College of Nursing at the U.S. Naval Medical Center, said the study found that the mental wellness of female nurses was similar to that of male nurses, but not as high.
He said that in the U:S., it is common for female nurses to work in larger facilities, which is more than likely to have more female employees in it.
“Women are generally more likely not to work as many hours as male colleagues,” Gollnis said.
“So, as a nurse, I find it very surprising that women can be found in larger settings and have a higher incidence of mental illness than male colleagues.”
Gollnick added that he has not heard of any similar study looking at women’s mental health before.
The authors acknowledge that there is a lack of data on the role of specialty pharmacy staff in the mental wellbeing of female staff.
“In addition, data is limited on whether or not specialty pharmacy workers may have a role in providing a mental health screening process, which could lead to differential rates of mental wellness between female and male employees,” they wrote.
“Future research should examine the impact of this discrepancy on health outcomes for female staff.”