Reducing emotional distress in nurses using cognitive behavioral therapy: A preliminary program evaluation

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Workplace stress among nurses has been associated with high absenteeism, low work satisfaction, and poor retention rates.


This pilot study evaluated the effectiveness of a 1 day stress management program on nurses' stress levels.


The nurse participants attended an 8 h face-to-face interactive workshop based on cognitive behavioral therapy. The subjects also were given a self-directed manual with reading and exercises to use after the workshop. The nurses were assessed at baseline and at 6 weeks postworkshop attendance using the Nurse Stress Scale (NSS). They were asked to rate their level of stress at work, outside of work, and their overall stress. The participants also were asked to evaluate the perceived usefulness of the workshop at follow-up.


The sample consisted of 18 new graduate nurses halfway through their first year. The NSS subscales “nurse–doctor conflict”, “death and dying”, and “nurse–nurse conflict” showed statistically significant improvement at follow-up. The ratings of stress at work, outside of work, and the overall stress also showed statistically significant improvement.


The workshop was well-received by the new graduate nurses. The pre/post findings suggest a beneficial effect of the intervention. The authors are encouraged by the results and now plan to conduct a multisite, randomized controlled trial to seek to establish a wider evidence base for the intervention.

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