Stress in cancer nursing: does it really exist?


  • Susie Mary Wilkinson RGN RM RCNT RNT ONC Cert Counselling Dip in Aromatherapy DipN DANS MSc PhD

    Director of Studies, Corresponding author
    1. Liverpool Mane Curie Centre, and Honorary Lecturer, Department of Nursing, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, England
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Dr S M Wilkinson Liverpool Mane Cune Centre Speke Road, Woolton Liverpool, L25 8QA, England


Nursing cancer patients has been identified as a particularly stressful occupation However, most studies have been descriptive, and few have measured levels of stress A study was set up to identify cancer nurses’ general proneness to stress and characteristics of nurses who experience the most stress. Sixty-five registered nurses working on six wards in two hospitals identified the two most stressful incidents over the last 3 months and completed the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory over an 8-week period The state anxiety subscale was completed six times, the trait anxiety once Data were analysed using SPSXX Statistical tests included analysis of variance and the Kendall tau correlation coefficient The nurses’ general anxiety proneness was no different from the normal values for working females, and their overall state anxiety levels were only significantly higher than the normal values for working women under examination conditions on the first time of testing Newly qualified nurses had a tendency to be more anxious compared with sisters and enrolled nurses Most nurses reported high levels of job satisfaction However, there was a statistically significant difference in nurses’ anxiety levels between wards The results suggest overall that the nurses in this sample were not experiencing high levels of stress They were perhaps only stressfully satisfied