Occupational stress facing nurse academics—A mixed-methods systematic review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2020, 29 (5-6), pp. 720 - 735
Issue Date:
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© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aim: To better understand occupational stress faced by nurse academics. Methods: A mixed-methods systematic review, following the Joanna Briggs Institute [JBI], (Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewers’ Manual: 2014 edition, 2014) process. Studies were assessed for quality and risk of bias by using standardised critical appraisal instruments from the Joanna Briggs Institute. In addition, processes and reporting were checked against the Equator guidelines. See Appendix S1. Results: The review revealed that nursing academics do experience occupational stress, including burnout. Occupational stress for academic nurses is associated with various factors including work–life balance, workload issues, resources and support, and adapting to change. However, much of the literature focuses on nurses during the initial transition from clinical to academic environment, with rather less focus on established mid-to-late career nurse academics. Discussion: Occupational stress and burnout are evident in the university academic workforce, adversely affecting the well-being of academic nurses, and the long-term sustainability of the academic nursing workforce. While there is considerable literature focusing on the novice academic nurse, particularly during the transition period, rather less is known about occupational stress among academic nurses across the career trajectory. Various strategies to deal with the negative consequences of occupational stress are identified, including (a) quality mentors for novice and younger nursing academics; (b) training in resilience building for novice academics; (c) supporting collegial relationships and reducing bullying; (d) assistance for professional development and research; (e) better support and resources to overcome increasing workloads; and (f) greater work-related empowerment to enhance job satisfaction. Conclusion: There is a need for a broader whole-of-career research focus to more fully identify, explore and mitigate the occupational stressors that negatively affect the academic nurse workforce. Relevance to clinical practice: A strong and resilient academic nurse workforce is essential for the sustainability of the profession. Organisations should review their work practices and provide greater work-related empowerment to reduce occupational stressors among nursing academics.
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