Work stress and posttraumatic stress disorder in ED nurses/personnel

J Emerg Nurs. 2003 Feb;29(1):23-8. doi: 10.1067/men.2003.7.


Introduction: Work-related stress in the emergency department previously has been linked to depression and burnout; however, these findings have not been extended to the development of anxiety disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Three sets of factors have been shown to contribute to stress in ED personnel: organizational characteristics, patient care, and the interpersonal environment. The current study addressed whether an association exists between sources of workplace stress and PTSD symptoms.

Method: Respondents were 51 ED personnel from a hospital in a large Canadian urban center. The majority of respondents were emergency nurses. Respondents completed questionnaires measuring PTSD and sources of work stress and answered a series of questions regarding work-related responses to stress or trauma.

Results: Interpersonal conflict was significantly associated with PTSD symptoms. The majority of respondents (67%) believed they had received inadequate support from hospital administrators following the traumatic incident and 20% considered changing jobs as a result of the trauma. Only 18% attended critical incident stress debriefing and none sought outside help for their distress.

Discussion: These findings underscore the need for hospital administrations to be aware of the extent of workplace stress and PTSD symptoms in their employees. Improving the interpersonal climate in the workplace may be useful in ameliorating PTSD symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • British Columbia
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Emergency Nursing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Occupational Health
  • Organizational Culture
  • Personnel, Hospital / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / prevention & control
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Violence / prevention & control
  • Violence / psychology
  • Workplace