A comparison of the stress-response sequence in new and experienced pediatric oncology nurses

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Oncology nurses experience a variety of occupational stresses. Different support measures have been provided for these nurses, but with mixed effects. This is likely because exact stressors, reactions, and consequences of the stressors differ among groups of oncology nurses, and a support measure appropriate for one group may be ineffective for another group. The purpose of this descriptive study was to identify the specific components of the stress-response sequence in new and experienced pediatric oncology nurses. Twenty-five nurses participated in guided interviews; nine of these comprised a new nurse orientation group, and 14 nurses were randomly selected from all nurses in the setting who had been in the specialty a minimum of 18 months. The new nurses were interviewed at 3, 6, and 12 months posthire, and the experienced nurses were interviewed one time. Interview data were content analyzed, and codes and definitions were developed for each component of the stress-response sequence. Distinct differences in stressors, reactions, and consequences were noted between new nurses who resigned before the 12th month of employment and those who did not, and between new nurses and experienced nurses; new nurses had few coping reactions, and their most common reaction was resignation. Experienced nurses had a greater number and different types of coping reactions and more positive consequences. Descriptive profiles were developed from the codes and can be used as a basis for tailored support measures for pediatric oncology nurses.

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