Effects of nursing industrial action on relatives of Intensive Care Unit patients: A 16-month follow-up

Peter Dzendrowskyj, Geoff Shaw, Lucy Johnston

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Aims: In December 2001, nursing industrial action occurred at Christchurch Hospital. This study assesses the effect industrial action had on relatives of those Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients involved. Method: A written questionnaire was sent to the relatives of the 17 patients on Intensive Care around the time of the strike; 11 of these patients had needed to be transferred to out of region hospitals for continuing care, whilst the others remained in the intensive care unit. Comparisons were made with a control group of 26 next-of-kin. Results: Compared with relatives of patients not involved in the strike, relatives involved during the strike were significantly more angry (p<0.007) and less trusting that the patients had received the best possible care (p<0.05). Compared to the control group, they were also more negative in their continuing view of the healthcare system (p<0.05). Those relatives involved in air transfers were more distressed (p<0.05), angry (p<0.001), and less trusting than those not involved in a transfer (p<0.005). Conclusion: The study shows that industrial action caused measurable distress and anxiety to the relatives involved some 16 months after the strike, especially in patients who were transferred. A persistent negative perception of the healthcare system in New Zealand could be demonstrated in this group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalNew Zealand Medical Journal
Issue number1205
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


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