Nurses’ perception of work-related stress: A cross-sectional study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Health


Wolters Kluwer


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Oliver, K., Oosthuizen, J., Cross, M., & Towell-Barnard, A. (2019). Nurses’ perception of work-related stress: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 35(1), 91-111. Available here


The nursing profession globally is regarded as being a highly stressful profession. The challenge moving forward is to identify what aspects of the role impact on the nurses’ job satisfaction and intention to stay working within the profession. Exploring the perception of stress, and specifically work-related stress generates a better understanding of the stressors impacting on the nurse, which positively impacts on staff turnover and absenteeism rates.

It is hypothesised that:

H1: Inexperienced nurses are more stressed than their experienced peers.

H2: Practice area is a factor that influences stress levels for nurses.

Design: The design utilised for this study was a cross-sectional questionnaire survey.

Methods: Two self-administered questionnaires were utilised to evaluate the participants’ perception of stress and specifically their work-related stress.

Results: Highlight that 40% of nurses report a high perception of stress. A number of key factors were noted, namely, inexperienced nurses perceived a higher level of work-related stress than their experienced peers. Secondly, nurse manager’s perceived a lack of personal control over aspects of their role. Finally, age and generational differences impact on the perception of stress for the nurse.

Conclusions: Due to the nature of the nurses’ role, removing this stress may be unachievable; rather gaining a greater understanding of the perception of stress and the stressors which nurses’ report should be explored.

Relevance to clinical practice: This study builds on previous research and understanding relating to the perception of workplace stress, and the stressors that nurse’s report during their career. Findings will assist nurse leaders and organisations to work with nurses to improve job satisfaction, and retention within the nursing profession.

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