Occupational Stress: The Problem and Its Background

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CHAPTER 1
THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND
INTRODUCTION
It has been agreed that, in the caring profession, nurses from the largest group of which the principal mission is the nurturing of and caring for people in the human health experience. They provide around-the-clock services to patient in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, as well as to clients using supportive and preventative programs and related community services (kipping, 2000:207) The nursing profession follows a holistic approach, taking to account the person in totality in his or her environment. Nurses provide presence, comfort, help and support for the people confronted with loneliness, pain, incapacity, disease and even death. The fact that nursing has been extensively and unfailingly recognized worldwide as a stressful job is therefore not surprising (Farrington 1995:574). Nurses who are stressed are more likely to have an increased incidence of absenteeism (Easternburg, Williamson, Gorsuch & Ridley, 1994:1233), which in turn not only results in a lack of continuity in care but also contributes to the nursing turnover (Kipping, 2000:207). Furthermore, an increased amount of interpersonal conflict has been noted in work context; nurses experience feelings of inadequacy, suffer from self-doubt, lowered self-esteem, irritability, depression, somatic disturbances and sleep disorders, all of which jeopardize the quality of care they provide (Hillhouse & Adler, 1996:297). Eventually burnout will set in due to chronic stress and may impact negatively on the nurse-patient relationship (Kipping, 2000:207).

Nursing is, by its nature, a stressful occupation because of exposure to a wide range of potentially stressful situations and conditions. Stressors for nurses consistently identified in the literature include work overload, pressures associated with the demands of the contemporary work environment (World Health Organization, 2004), unpredictability of the staffing and scheduling having to complete too many non-nursing tasks and having to make decision under pressure (Fox, 2003; McVicar, 2003).

While there are a considerable number of stressors associated with number of stressors associated with nursing work, stress is highly subjective and there is substantial variation in experiences of stress (Santamaria, 1995). New nurses in particular are likely to face some unique stressors that make the period of transition to the role of registered nurses (RN) an especially difficult time (McVicar, 2003; Casey, Fink, Krugman and Propt, 2004).

In addition, watching a patient suffers and feeling helpless in the case of a patient who fails to improve or may be dying may cause distress among nurses. Lack of time to give patient emotional support, tiredness, criticism by doctors and conflicts with immediate supervisors (Huang, 2004; Healy and McKay, 1999; Tyler and Cushway, 1995:1992) can also create difficult situations for nurses.

Stress has been identified with concerns about job security and stability, work dynamics, safety and self esteem issues (World Health Organization, 2004; Rainham, 1994). Poor work organization, including poor work design and work systems can also cause stress (World Health Organization, 2004).

According to World Health Organization, work related stress occurs a in wide range of work circumstances. A healthy work environment is one which the presence and impact of such stressors are minimized, by ensuring the absence of harmful conditions and an abundance of health promoting ones (World Health Organization, 2007).

Importantly, evidence suggests that healthy work environments are one important factor contributing to the world wide nursing storage (World Health Organization, 2004).
Other key reports relating to the wellbeing of health workers similarly a argue that the more control workers have over their work and the way they do it, and the more they participate in decision making in their job, the less...
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