How do perioperative nurses cope with stress?

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Publication details

Gillespie, BM & Kermode,S 2004, 'How do perioperative nurses cope with stress?', Contemporary Nurse, vol. 16, no. 1-2, pp. 20-29.

Peer Reviewed



In recent years there has been broad discussion on the nature of stressors experienced by members of "high risk" occupations and professions, for instance nursing and emergency workers, whose role is to support others through traumatic scenarios (Lam et al, 1999:23). Perioperative nursing is a major specialization in nursing practice in which there is an increased risk of exposure to traumatic events (Schwann, 1998:645). Moreover, the cumulative nature of critical events, if left undealt with that will potentiate attrition among nurses in the perioperative environment (Michael and Jenkins, 2001:39). This triangulated study using self-administered questionaires focused on how theatre nurses coped with contextual stressors in the work milieu. A purposive sample of 46 registered and enrolled nurses who worked at a major Brisbane hospital were asked to describe a recent stressful workplace event, and rat rate it using Horowitz's (1993) Impact of Event Scale (IES). Results indicated that nurses with the least general theatre experience, demonstrated the highest negative impacts. 25% of females demonstrated avoidance tendencies when stressed, while 83% of males used problem-solving strategies. Reactions following trauma among the nurses were predominantly negative, and included feelings of frustration and self-doubt. These findings support the eminent need for hospital organizations to take a more person-centered approach when dealing with workplace stress.

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