Stress Causing Psychosomatic Illness Among Nurses

Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Apr;13(1):28-32. doi: 10.4103/0019-5278.50721.

Abstract

Stress in nurses is an endemic problem. It contributes to health problems in nurses and decreases their efficiency. Documenting the causes and extent of stress in any healthcare unit is essential for successful interventions

Aim: Establishing the existence and extent of work stress in nurses in a hospital setting, identifying the major sources of stress, and finding the incidence of psychosomatic illness related to stress.

Materials and methods: This study used a questionnaire relating to stressors and a list of psychosomatic ailments. One hundred and six nurses responded and they were all included in the study. Stressors were based on four main factors: work related, work interactions, job satisfaction, and home stress. The factors relating to stress were given weights according to the severity. The total score of 50 was divided into mild, moderate, severe, and burnout.

Results: Most important causes of stress were jobs not finishing in time because of shortage of staff, conflict with patient relatives, overtime, and insufficient pay. Psychosomatic disorders like acidity, back pain, stiffness in neck and shoulders, forgetfulness, anger, and worry significantly increased in nurses having higher stress scores. Increase in age or seniority did not significantly decrease stress.

Conclusion: Moderate levels of stress are seen in a majority of the nurses. Incidence of psychosomatic illness increases with the level of stress. Healthcare organizations need to urgently take preemptive steps to counter this problem.

Keywords: Burnout; nursing shortage; nursing stress; psychosomatic illness; shift work.