Occupational stressors, burnout and coping strategies between hospital and community psychiatric nurses in a Dublin region

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Abstract

Occupational stress can negatively impact on the well-being of psychiatric nurses, which in turn can lead to poor client care. There is a dearth of published research conducted in Ireland that examines stress within the discipline. A between-groups study, undertaken in February 2011, investigated stressors, burnout and coping strategies between hospital and community-based psychiatric nurses in a Dublin region. Sixty-nine participants (8 males and 61 females), aged between 18 to 60 years voluntarily completed the Mental Health Professional Stress Scale, the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the PsychNurse Methods of Coping Scale. The findings revealed that nurses were operating in a moderately stressful environment. Stressors focused on organizational issues as opposed to client issues. The main stressors identified were lack of resources, workload and organizational structures/processes. Both groups reported average levels of emotional exhaustion, low levels of depersonalization and average levels of personal accomplishment. A Mann–Whitney U-test and Independent Samples t-test found significant differences between hospital and community-based nurses regarding depersonalization and personal accomplishment, respectively. Hospital nurses reported higher depersonalization scores, and community nurses had a greater sense of personal accomplishment. The personal accomplishment scores of hospital nurses were below mental health professional norms. No significant differences emerged regarding coping strategies. Avoidant coping strategies were favoured by both groups. It is recommended that interventions aimed at increasing personal accomplishment be implemented for both groups of nurses. An investigation of perceived job control and the use of social support would also be insightful.

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