Perceived occupational stress in nurses working in Ireland

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McCarthy, Vera J. C.
Power, S.
Greiner, Birgit A.
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Oxford University Press
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Background: This study examines perceived stress and its potential causal factors in nurses. Stress has been seen as a routine and accepted part of the healthcare worker’s role. The lack of research on stress in nurses in Ireland motivated this study. Aims: The aims of this study are to examine the level of stress experienced by nurses working in an Irish teaching hospital, and investigate differences in perceived stress levels by ward area and associations with work characteristics. Method: A cross-sectional study design was employed, with a two-stage cluster sampling process. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data and nurses were investigated across ten different wards using the Nursing Stress Scale and the Demand Control Support Scales. Results: The response rate was 62%. Using outpatients as a reference ward, perceived stress levels were found to be significantly higher in the medical ward, accident and emergency, intensive care unit and paediatric wards (p<0.05). There was no significant difference between the wards with regard to job strain, however, differences did occur with levels of support; the day unit and paediatric ward reporting the lowest level of supervisor support (p<0.01). A significant association was seen between the wards and perceived stress even after adjustment (p<0.05). Conclusion: The findings suggest that perceived stress does vary within different work areas in the same hospital. Work factors, such as demand and support are important with regard to perceived stress. Job control was not found to play an important role.
Job strain , Nurses , Occupational stress , Support
McCarthy, V. J. C., Power, S. and Greiner, B. A. (2010) 'Perceived occupational stress in nurses working in Ireland', Occupational Medicine, 60(8), pp. 604-610. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqq148
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© 2010, the Authors. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Occupational Medicine following peer review. The version of record (McCarthy, V. J. C., Power, S. and Greiner, B. A. (2010) 'Perceived occupational stress in nurses working in Ireland', Occupational Medicine, 60(8), pp. 604-610) is available online at