An investigation of factors predicting occupational and psychological distress in nurses: a comparative study of settings within a single hospital

Grey, Nicholas (1996). An investigation of factors predicting occupational and psychological distress in nurses: a comparative study of settings within a single hospital. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e11f

Abstract

Nursing is an occupation with high levels of stress. This study aimed to investigate which factors help predict distress in nursing staff in a range of settings within a single hospital. Interviews were conducted with a total of 82 qualified nursing staff from four settings; Accident & Emergency, Intensive Therapy Unit, Orthopaedics and Spinal Injuries. These were chosen for their different ways of working including duration of stay of patients. Questionnaire packs were returned by 60 participants, including information on general mental health, work-specific distress, work environment, coping, self-efficacy and social support. Main stressors as identified from the interviews were high workload / lack of staff, dealing with other professionals, death and dying, and dealing with abusive patients / relatives. Analyses showed that levels of distress were similar across settings and at a similar level to current NHS-wide research, but higher than previous UK normative values. Overall, high levels of distress were associated with low social support, younger age, high workload, low clarity and low task orientation. For general mental health personal system factors were the more important predictors. For work-specific distress (emotional exhaustion) health care system factors were more important. Clinical implications highlighted include particularly supporting younger staff, developing intervention strategies for work environment factors, and positive approaches such as greater acknowledgement of good work. Implications for theory and furniture research are also discussed.

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