Stress and coping in Australian nurses: a systematic review


Joanne Lim, Edith Cavell Building, Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital, Herston, Qld 4029, Australia; Tel: +61-07-3381-1165; Fax: +61-07-3381-1166; E-mail:


LIM J., BOGOSSIAN F. & AHERN K. (2010) Stress and coping in Australian nurses: a systematic review. International Nursing Review57, 22–31

Aim:  To identify factors that contribute to stress in Australian nurses, consider the coping strategies they use and examine the effects of stressors on nurses' health and well-being.

Background:  Stress is a major concern in the nursing profession with work overload, nurse shortages and high turnover rates as the common stressors. Although nursing stress has been studied extensively, there is a lack of clarity on the nursing situation in Australia.

Methods:  A systematic review of the current literature was conducted on stress and coping strategies within the Australian nursing population.

Results:  Stressors included work overload, role conflicts and experiences of aggression. Coping strategies included seeking support, problem solving and self-control. The majority of the studies reported detrimental effects on nurses' physical and mental well-being with little consideration given to the spillover effects of nursing work stress to their family and social relationships.

Conclusion:  Recommendations included factoring in personal and work stresses, promoting the use of effective coping strategies and maintaining supportive social relationships.