An investigation of distress and discontent in various types of nursing

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Abstract

It has been claimed that nurses in intensive therapy units are prone to high levels of distress and discontent A questionnaire was designed to assess nurses' reactions to intensive therapy work and thus provide an objective check on these claims. Nurses from eight intensive therapy units in England took part in the survey together with comparison groups from two renal units, a medical ward and a surgical ward. High levels of job satisfaction were registered in all the intensive treatment units with very few nurses indicating distress or a wish to leave their job. Some features of the work did attract criticism though, in particular the large fluctuations in work load, the level and adequacy of support, and the sparse amount of feedback given to nurses by senior staff.

Much the same pattern was recorded with the medical and surgical nurses, and from one of the renal units. The second renal unit was known to be in a state of crisis at the time and it was predicted that a high level of discontent would be registered there. This proved to be the case and was taken as confirmation of the validity of the questionnaire, and also as giving insight into the psycho-social conditions which may foster distress in nurses.

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