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Role stress and role ambiguity in new nursing graduates in Australia


address: Esther Chang, School of Nursing, Family and Community Health, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia. Email:


The first few months of nursing have the potential to be the most challenging and stressful for new nursing graduates. The purpose of the present study was to examine sources of, and changes in, role stress 2–3 months after employment, and 11–12 months later in new graduate nurses. This study also investigated the relationship between job satisfaction and role stress. A factor analysis demonstrated that role ambiguity was the most salient feature of role stress in the first few months, while 10 months later, role overload was the most important factor explaining variance in role stress scores. There was no significant change in role stress scores over time. For the first survey, job satisfaction was significantly negatively correlated with role ambiguity and role stress. In the second survey there was still a significant negative correlation between role ambiguity and job satisfaction, but no significant correlation between role overload and job satisfaction. The findings are discussed in terms of implications for nursing education, practice and future research.