• instrument development;
  • post-code stress;
  • stress;
  • resuscitation;
  • critical care nurses;
  • critical care nurses stress;
  • resuscitation stress;
  • psychological stress;
  • occupational stress;
  • death and dying

A measure of critical care nurses’ post-code stress

Aim.  The purpose of this research was to develop an instrument to measure critical care nurses’ post-code stress and then to examine the psychometric properties.

Background.  Critical care nurses experience stress from multiple sources. One source of stress may arise from participation in resuscitation attempts and this has been labelled post-code stress; however, no means exist for measuring this source of stress.

Design/Method.  In phase 1, 47 items were developed and submitted to a panel of experts for content validity. Based on content experts’ ratings, 20 items were retained for phase 2 instrument testing. To test the instrument, a convenience sample of critical care nurses was obtained from four institutions in north-eastern United States. Each nurse received the Post-Code Stress Scale and completed it anonymously. A subsample completed the Post-Code Stress Scale a second time to assess stability reliability. The Nursing Stress Scale was also administered to assess construct validity.

Results/Findings.  An exploratory principal components factor analysis with varimax rotation suggested five dimensions to post-code stress. These five dimensions accounted for 66% of the variance and indicated that stress arose from feeling discomposed, oppressed, uncertain, burdened and morally conflicted. The Pearson product moment correlation between the Post-Code Stress Scale and the Nursing Stress Scale was 0·46, providing preliminary evidence of construct validity. Internal consistency reliability estimates for the five-factor subscales ranged from 0·57 to 0·77 with only one factor being <0·70. The internal consistency reliability estimate for the final 14 items on the scale was 0·79.

Conclusions.  The instrument shows promise as a measure of post-code stress based on the evidence obtained in this study; however, further psychometric testing is warranted.