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Lifestyle practices and the health promoting environment of hospital nurses

Authors


Ann Hope Centre for Health Promotion Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway, Republic of Ireland.

Abstract

This paper examined the lifestyle practices of hospital nurses and the impact of specific interventions in the hospital environment. The perception of nurse as health promoter and as carer of AIDS patients was also examined. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data at two different time periods. The sample represented 729 nurses (at pre- and post-time periods), both qualified and student nurses. Qualified nurses reported the highest stress levels while student nurses reported more negative lifestyle practices such as smoking, alcohol consumption and drug use. A greater number of current smokers (29%) consumed alcohol and used drugs than non-smokers. The impact of intervention strategies around compliance with smoking policy and work-site walk routes reduced exposure to passive smoking at work for qualified nurses and increased exercise participation for both groups of nurses. Workplace was identified as the main source of stress which included relationships at work and demands of the job. Hospital nurses experiencing high work stress were more likely to use professional support and personal coping (discuss problems with friends/family, have a good cry and eat more) than others. Nurses believed in the importance of health promotion as part of their work; however, qualified nurses felt more confident and gave more health related information than student nurses. Student nurses perceived a lower risk of contacting AIDS through work and a higher concern/worry in caring for AIDS patients than qualified nurses.

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