Introduction: Lack of nursing personnel, the consequent nurses’ work pressure within health care units and the particularities of nursing services provision in mental health institutions, render the examination of stress at work a necessity.
Aim: The current study aims in presenting the stress levels among nurses in mental health institutions, their perceptions of the nursing role and the coping strategies they use.
Methodology: This cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in the population of 85 nurses in mental health open and closed units of two public hospitals of Attica, one psychiatric and one general. Participants filled in questionnaires on demographic characteristics, perceived stress, role conflict and ambiguity and ways of coping with stressful situations.
Results: 57 women (67,1%) and 28 men (32,9%), aged (mean) 41,08 years, mostly married (74,1%) and graduates of Technological institutions (29,4%) participated in the study. Most were working 16-20 years (32,9%), were nurses (71,8%) and were being occupied in a psychiatric structure for more than 21 years (27,1%). Female nurses had a greater amount of role ambiguity (p=0.048) and higher levels of stress (p=0.007). The same pattern was observed to those who worked for more years (p=0.038). Those who were not satisfied with their job suffered from greater role ambiguity (p<0.001) and conflict (p<0.001), while the graduates of secondary education and specialised nurses had higher levels of stress (p=0.004). Nurses with most working years in a psychiatric facility, experienced greater role conflict (p=0.034). Role ambiguity was positively associated with role conflict (p<0.001), perceived stress (p=0.006), positive approach strategy (negatively; p=0.003), self-rated health (negatively; p=0.003) and age (negatively; p=0.006). Perceived stress was negatively associated with positive approach (p=0.019) and self-rated health (p<0.001). Finally, positive approach was positively associated with social support (p<0.001) and self-rated health (p=0.009).
Conclusions: Further examination of the complex aetiology of work-related stress, its determinants and underlying mechanisms is imperative in order to optimize the organisation of the work environment.
Keywords: stress, mental health nurses, ways of coping, role perception