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Stressors and coping strategies of emergency department nurses and doctors: A cross-sectional study

Journal article
Authors H. Xu
A. N. B. Johnston
J. H. Greenslade
M. Wallis
E. Elder
L. Abraham
O. Thom
Eric Carlström
J. Crilly
Published in Australasian Emergency Care
Volume 22
Issue 3
Pages 180-186
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine
Pages 180-186
Language en
Keywords Stress, Coping, Morale, Emergency department, working environment, occupational stress, prevalence, Emergency Medicine, Nursing
Subject categories Nursing


Background: Emergency departments (EDs) are stressful workplaces. Limited research explores components ED staff find stressful and how they cope. The aim of this study is to describe ED staff perceptions of their working environment. Methods: A cross-sectional study was undertaken in 2017 in a public, teaching hospital ED situated in an outer-metropolitan low socio-economic area. ED doctors and nurses completed surveys exploring workplace stressors (the ED stressors tool), coping strategies (Jalowiec Coping Scale), and perceptions of the working environment (Working Environment Scale-10). Descriptive and comparative analyses were undertaken. Results: A 40% response rate (161/400) was achieved. Staff reported high workload, moderate self realisation, and low levels of conflict and nervousness. Heavy workload, poor skill-mix and overcrowding were ranked as high-stress, high-exposure (daily) events. The death or sexual abuse of a child and inability to provide optimal care were ranked highly stressful but infrequent. Coping strategies most often used included: trying to keep life as normal as possible (90%) and considering different ways to handle the situation (89%). Conclusions: Impacts of varying degrees of exposure of this young cohort of staff, with limited experience, to modifiable and non-modifiable stressors highlight site-specific opportunities to enhance staff perceptions of their working environment. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of College of Emergency Nursing Australasia.

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