Causes and consequences of occupational stress in emergency nurses, a longitudinal study

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This longitudinal study examines the influence of changes over time in work and organisational characteristics on job satisfaction, work engagement, emotional exhaustion, turnover intention and psychosomatic distress in emergency room nurses.


Organisational and job characteristics of nurses are important predictors of stress–health outcomes. Emergency room nurses are particularly exposed to stressful work-related events and unpredictable work conditions.


The study was carried out in 15 emergency departments of Belgian general hospitals in 2008 (T1) and 18 months later (T2) (n = 170).


Turnover rates between T1 and T2 were high. Important changes over time were found in predictors and outcomes. Changes in job demand, control and social support predicted job satisfaction, work engagement and emotional exhaustion. In addition, changes in reward, social harassment and work agreements predicted work engagement, emotional exhaustion and intention to leave, respectively.


Work-related interventions are important to improve occupational health in emergency room nurses and should focus on lowering job demands, increasing job control, improving social support and a well-balanced reward system.

Implications for nursing management

Nursing managers should be aware of the causes and consequences of occupational stress in emergency room nurses in order to enable preventive interventions.

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