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On-line version ISSN 2223-6279
Print version ISSN 0379-8577

Curationis vol.31 n.2 Pretoria  2008




Critical care nurses' perceptions of stress and stress-related situations in the workplace



S MoolaI; VJ EhlersII; SP HattinghIII

ID Litt et Phil graduate, University of South Africa
IID Litt et Phil. Professor, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa
D Litt et Phil. Associate Professor, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa





Critical care nurses (CCNs) experience stressful situations in their daily working environments. A qualitative research approach (exploratory, descriptive and contextual) was used to explore and describe the stressful situations experienced by critical care nurses in the Tshwane metropolitan are of South Africa. Focus group interviews were conducted with critical care nurses.
Data was generated by means of focus group interviews. The results revealed CCNs' perceptions and experiences about stressful events, factors contributing to stress in the critical care environment, as well as their needs for support systems.Critical care nurses experience stressful situations in their daily working environments. The question arises for nurses: are there adequate support systems in the critical care environment and what are critical care nurses doing to maintain their own health and well-being? Facilitating conscious awareness among critical care nurses could enhance their resiliency and their hardiness, strengthening their coping capacities in stressful working situations. The contextual framework adopted for this research was the Neuman Systems Model. A qualitative research approach (exploratory, descriptive and contextual) was used to explore and describe the stress experienced by critical care nurses. Focus group interviews were conducted with critical care nurses and individual interviews with nurse managers. The results revealed their perceptions and experiences about the effects of stress in the critical care environment, as well as some of their coping strategies. The recommendations include that stress management programmes should be implemented and evaluated; debriefing services should be available to CCNs, in-service education programmes should address raising CCNs' consciousness awareness and enhance their resiliency skills. Effective communication systems should be established between managers and CCNs to address inconsistencies as they arise, including critical shortages of staff and equipment.

Keywords: burnout, consciousness awareness, critical care nurses, resiliency, job-related experiences, stress management



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Prof VJ Ehlers
Department of Health Studies
PO Box 392
Unisa, 0003
Tel: (012)429-67321(w); Fax: (012) 429-6688 (w)
Cell: 084 587 3303

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