• trained nurse;
  • student nurse;
  • stress reduction/management programme;
  • work-related distress;
  • work-site;
  • review;
  • human resource management;
  • health care recruitment;
  • retention

Reducing distress in first level and student nurses: a review of the applied stress management literature

Following recent evidence of continuing high levels of distress in both trained and student nurses, a critical review of the stress reduction and stress management literature targeting both trained and student nurses is presented. Using a systematic approach, some 36 studies dating from 1980 until the present day were identified adopting either pre-experimental, quasi-experimental or experimental designs. While many work-site programmes in this series were successful in terms of adaptive changes in problem-solving, self-management skills including relaxation and interpersonal skills, affective well-being, and work performance, a number of design and evaluation inadequacies were identified. The relative lack of home–work interface or organizational level programmes to reduce work-related distress, and the scarcity of interventions targeting aspects of the work environment likely to contribute to such outcomes may have contributed to continuing high levels of distress in trained and student nurses. Recommendations regarding the future design, provision and evaluation of such work-site interventions include the further clarification of the structure of perceived stressors, and development of causal models of the stress process to identify the job characteristics ‘causing’ work-related distress. Such an approach would inform the design and implementation of evidence-based organizational level interventions augmenting strategies to target the health behaviour, lifestyle/risk factors and self-management skills of practitioners and students with attempts to amend problematic elements of the psychosocial work environment.