The Claybury community psychiatric nurse stress study: is it more stressful to work in hospital or the community?



The Claybury community psychiatric nurse (CPN) stress study collected data on stress levels in 250 CPNs and 323 ward-based psychiatric nurses (WBPN) in the North East Thames region Four out of 10 CPNs were found to be experiencing high levels of psychological distress on GHQ scores Whilst both CPNs and WBPNs scored highly on scores of occupational burnout, especially on emotional exhaustion scores, WBPNs scored worse on emotional detachment from their patients and were achieving less personal fulfilment from their work Both groups of nurses were more satisfied with direct patient clinical work than with their employment conditions, particularly their working environments and, for CPNs, their relationships with then managers The different patterns of coping skills are explored and discussed for both groups of nurses, especially the use of social support, time management and organization of tasks The study concludes that whilst major changes are occuring in the psychiatric arena for both groups of nurses, stress is reaping its toll on mental health nurses, in terms of higher absence rates, lower self-esteem and personal unfulfilment This could not only affect the quality of patient care but also future career prospects for nurses The study invites serious consideration of introducing stress-reducing measures in the work-place as well as further research into specific stressors for different groups of nurses