Nurses and stress: Recognizing causes and seeking solutions

Brenda HAPPELL, Trudy Dwyer, K Reid-Searl, Karena Burke, Cristina Caperchione, CADEYRN GASKIN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Citations (Scopus)



To identify, from the perspectives of nurses, occupational stressors and ways in which they may be reduced.

Nurses commonly experience high levels of occupational stress, with negative consequences for their physical and psychological health, health-care organisations and community. There is minimal research on reducing occupational stress.

Six focus groups were conducted with 38 registered nurses using a qualitative exploratory approach. Participants were asked to identify sources of occupational stress and possible workplace initiatives to reduce stress.

Sources of occupational stress were: high workloads, unavailability of doctors, unsupportive management, human resource issues, interpersonal issues, patients’ relatives, shift work, car parking, handover procedures, no common area for nurses, not progressing at work and patient mental health. Suggestions for reduction included: workload modification, non-ward-based initiatives, changing shift hours, forwarding suggestions for change, music, special events, organisational development, ensuring nurses get breaks, massage therapists, acknowledgement from management and leadership within wards.

The findings highlight the need to understand local perspectives and the importance of involving nurses in identifying initiatives to reduce occupational stress.
Implications for nursing management

Health-care environments can be enhanced through local understanding of the occupational stressors and productively engaging nurses in developing stress reduction initiatives. Nurse managers must facilitate such processes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-647
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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