Stress and its Impact on the Neurocognitive Performance of Australian Nurses

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Journal Article
Stress and Health, 2017, 33 (1), pp. 45 - 54
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Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Nurses function inside a particularly stressful occupation that requires the provision of continuous care to individuals who are often in great need. Stress has been shown to impair performance and specifically shown to impair nursing quality. However, we do not yet know how stress influences the cognitive performance of nurses, and hence, the present study investigated the associations between stress and cognitive performance in nurses using electroencephalography and administered cognitive assessments. Thirty-six nurses (34 women) of mean age 37.77 ± 11.40 years were recruited. Stress was examined using the Lifestyle Appraisal Questionnaire. Broad spectrum electroencephalogram activity at positions Fp1, Fp2, C3 and C4 was recorded for a 5-min baseline and active phase to physiologically assess cognitive performance. Additionally, the Mini-Mental State Exam and Cognistat were also used to measure cognitive performance. Assessed cognitive performance was not associated to stress, however, lifestyle factors, as well as a number of the examined cognitive electroencephalographic variables including changes in theta, alpha activity and gamma reactivity were. Definitively determining how stress affects the cognitive performance of nurses requires additional research; the present study forms a foundation from which future research can further expand the examination of stress exposure in nurses. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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