A recent review on the working condition in the hospital setup revealed a lot of stressful environments that the clinical officers undergo. Stress has undermined the accuracy of most of the nurses. The occurrence of stress among the nursing officer was found to be caused by the prevailing work conditions. Witnessing of patients dying, overload, lengthy procedures in intensive care units (ICU), and constant noise in the maternity wards were some of the causes of stress (Labrague et al 2017). The nurses have to learn to cope with all these stressful factors as they carry on their daily duties. As a result of the stressful working environment, studies have shown a strong relationship between nursing professionals and their health conditions. For instance, a nurse may be suffering from constant headaches or lower-back pain dues to the severe working condition at the place of work. Stress has led to reduced work productivity among professional nurses.
The main aim of this study was to find out the primary sources of the stress that the nurses face while performing their duties. Possible solutions to the causes of the stress among the nurses have also been given. There has been a global shortage of nursing professionals, and this has raised much concern both in the developed and developing countries across the world. There has been a big challenge when recruiting and retaining nurses and other health officers in many countries worldwide. Burnouts have been linked to the direct cause of a high consistent rate of job stress as the nursing staff strive to meet their job expectations. In Saudi Arabia, the area of Taif, a few pieces of research have been done to try and find out the relationship between job stressors and the satisfaction that one gets from a job.
For a long time, stress has been grouped as a stimulus, a response or an interaction. Many studies have been done on different perspectives of stress. In his study on stress, Selye proposed that like an examination which supported and considered the linking relationship between stress and sickness. Conversely, after Lazarus had done numerous research on stress, he concluded with a psychological view that stress had a direct relationship between an individual and the environment their environment of operation. The environment taxed the individual’s resources and posed a danger to his or her well-being. The stimulus thus becomes harmful to the individual if it is causing him or her to lack the peace of mind that he or she needs while performing their tasks.
Since the 1950s, stress has been categorized as one of the occupational hazards people face at their places of work. Stress at the workplace for the nursing staff was first assessed late in 1960 (McCarthy et al 2018). This was after Menzie realized some forms of anxiety among the nurses who were on duty. The anxieties that he saw among the nurses were on; making clear decisions, changing, taking up their responsibilities accordingly and the care they gave to their patients. Over the years, the nursing job has been regarded as full of stress based on the nature of the job itself. The tedious labour on the wards experiences human sufferings, long working hours, inadequate staffing, and the working relationship among the nurses was one of the leading causes of this stress. Beginning from the 1980s, there has been piling pressure on the nursing staff. This follows the increased use of technology in the health sector and the high cost of the health care services that keep on escalating now and then.
With the increase in the number of people seeking medical attention in hospitals, and in the context of geriatric setting, nurses have been on continuous chroming stress. Freudenberg described the term “burnout” in 1974 to define this magnitude of stress among nurses. He described burnout as a symptom that results in a feeling of being depersonalized, emotionally exhausted, which causes lowered job productivity in an individual. Stress among the nursing staff may also result from the responsibilities at their places of work, in their marriages and from their children. Work-life generally is tied to family life, and the two may tend to conflict with interest. The outcomes of the stresses among the nurses, be it work-related or nonworking stresses, have not been well researched. For example, women may suffer most from nonworking stresses as there are roles they are solely responsible for and cannot avoid, especially when they have a family to care for.
Concept of stress
Stress has been defined as a reaction in that it changes with certain specific changes that the human body undergoes. Stress can also be defined as a stimulus depending on the prevailing environmental changes that initiate the change. Both of these changes have a direct effect on the productivity of the nursing staff. Reactional changes such as headaches may cause the nurses not to concentrate well while performing their duties. Working conditions such as using complex technological machines to perform some of their duties may be strenuous to the nurses.
Sources of stress
So many factors can cause stress. Stimulus factors that result in stress are such as:
- Chemicals: exposure to some drugs and chemicals that are toxic, consumption of food and water that is contaminated.
- Biological: long hours of exposure to harsh environmental conditions such as coldness and excessive heat, pain and even sicknesses.
- Microbial: bacteria and viruses are always a risk factor to the nursing staff.
- Psychological: divorce in the family, death of loved ones or patients, harassment at the place of work and even threats from the bosses may cause psychological stress among the nursing staff.
- Social-cultural: social competition among the nurses, immigration and interruption of interpersonal relationships.
- Environmental: Working in a war-prone zone, unhealthy working conditions and extreme working conditions at the place of work.
Although past research has shown that stress has affected the nursing staff health concerning the quality of life, one person can assess a situation to be stressful, while the other person finds it not. When an event can be stressful to one person, this may not affect the person’s heath, and under another condition, the same event may not change the emotional state of this person. Every situation has different effects on different people under the same conditions. The stress factors can therefore be grouped as being circumstantial or developmental, or internal or external. For circumstantial stress, factors are unpredictable and can occur without giving a warning, such as death. Developmental stress factors are predictable and appear at set times. Internal stress factors begin from within a person’s body, such as the development of cancer, while external stress factors are generated from outside a person, like the loss of a loved one (Ribeiro et al 2018).
Stress has been a complex problem that, for a long time, has caused goosebumps in the health sciences. Much treatment has been done while trying to solve this problem. We continue to experience stress in our daily lives, some of the stress has been helpful to us, and some has caused us to be in more health problems. Addressing the subject of stress becomes vital to us, and to some extent, it does not necessarily call for an expert’s guidance. The frequency at which stress occurs calls for every nurse and any other healthcare professional to take the initiative of patiently assessing the sources that may because causing the stress to happen. Some of these causes may be due to the working conditions, the family, or it may be as a result of an interpersonal relationship problem among the healthcare professionals.
Although there is no clarity, a body of researchers has been formed to address the work stress. This research has been set to run for fifty years and mainly looks at the nurses’ stress at their workplace (Van der Riet, Levett-Jones & Aquino-Russell, 2018). Stress is pervasive both in nursing and in the healthcare profession. Over the years, it has been observed that the working conditions at the healthcare centres have been deteriorating. This has coupled up with the increasing shortage of nursing staff to cater for the high workload. Institutional leaders are tasked with the responsibility of caring for the working conditions of their staff as the stressing factors are rolled over from the nursing staff to the patients. Proper care of the nursing staff is not an exception, regardless of the causes of the stress.
Labrague, L. J., McEnroe-Petitte, D. M., Gloe, D., Thomas, L., Papathanasiou, I. V., & Tsaras, K. (2017). A literature review on stress and coping strategies in nursing students. Journal of Mental Health, 26(5), 471-480.
McCarthy, B., Trace, A., O’Donovan, M., Brady-Nevin, C., Murphy, M., O’Shea, M., & O’Regan, P. (2018). Nursing and midwifery students’ stress and coping during their undergraduate education programmes: An integrative review. Nurse education today, 61, 197-209.
Ribeiro, Í. J., Pereira, R., Freire, I. V., de Oliveira, B. G., Casotti, C. A., & Boery, E. N. (2018). Stress and quality of life among university students: A systematic literature review. Health Professions Education, 4(2), 70-77.
Van der Riet, P., Levett-Jones, T., & Aquino-Russell, C. (2018). The effectiveness of mindfulness meditation for nurses and nursing students: An integrated literature review. Nurse education today, 65, 201-211.