• occupational stress;
  • Brazil;
  • nurses;
  • health;
  • job satisfaction;
  • constructive thinking

Background.  Occupational stress is associated with specific situations, characteristics of the work environment, and individual perceptions and reactions in the context of the workplace, but many nursing studies of occupational stress have tended to analyse aspects related to the job itself. In Brazil nursing is acknowledged as a stressful occupation whose stresses are generally associated with the job itself, while the effects of personal characteristics on an individual's response to occupational stress are dismissed.

Aims.  The aim of this paper is to describe: (1) occupational stress, job satisfaction and state of health in Brazilian nurses, and (2) the relationship of these variables to a constructive thinking coping style.

Methods.  A correlational study was performed during 1999 with 461 nurses recruited from the public health and education system in the Federal District of Brazil. Instruments used were the Nursing Stress Inventory, Constructive Thinking Inventory, subscales of the Occupational Stress Indicator, and a researcher-designed questionnaire.

Results.  Normal distributions were found for occupational stress, state of health (physical and psychological), and job satisfaction. Results suggest that nurses have fewer psychological health problems and similar job satisfaction compared with other Brazilian government white-collar workers. Occupational stress was directly associated with state of health, and inversely associated with global constructive thinking and job satisfaction.

Conclusions.  Brazilian nurses in this study seem to have adapted satisfactorily to their profession, but the finding that constructive thinking was significantly related to psychological ill-health, occupational stress and physical ill-health highlights a need to value individual coping styles in the work environment.