A survey of role stress, coping and health in Australian and New Zealand hospital nurses

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Journal Article
International Journal of Nursing Studies, 2007, 44 (8), pp. 1354 - 1362
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Background: Previous research has identified international and cultural differences in nurses' workplace stress and coping responses. We hypothesised an association between problem-focused coping and improved health, emotion-focused coping with reduced health, and more frequent workplace stress with reduced health. Objectives: Test the above hypotheses with Australian and New Zealand nurses, and compare Australian and New Zealand nurses' experience of workplace stress, coping and health status. Participants and settings: Three hundred and twenty-eight New South Wales (NSW) and 190 New Zealand (NZ) volunteer acute care hospital nurses (response rate 41%) from randomly sampled nurses. Design and method: Postal survey consisting of a demographic questionnaire, the Nursing Stress Scale, the WAYS of Coping Questionnaire and the SF-36 Health Survey Version 2. Results: Consistent with hypotheses, more frequent workplace stress predicted lower physical and mental health. Problem-focused coping was associated with better mental health. Emotion-focused coping was associated with reduced mental health. Contrary to hypotheses, coping styles did not predict physical health. NSW and NZ scored effectively the same on sources of workplace stress, stress coping methods, and physical and mental health when controlling for relevant variables. Conclusions: Results suggest mental health benefits for nurses who use problem-solving to cope with stress by addressing the external source of the stress, rather than emotion-focused coping in which nurses try to control or manage their internal response to stress. Cultural similarities and similar hospital environments could account for equivalent findings for NSW and NZ. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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