Registered nurses' health in community elderly care in Sweden

Authors

  • K. Josefsson PHD, RNT

    Corresponding author
    1. Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden
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Karin Josefsson, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Mälardalen University, Box 325, SE-63105 Eskilstuna, Sweden; Tel: +46-70-6689416; Fax: +46-16-153740; E-mail: karin.josefsson@yahoo.se.

Abstract

JOSEFSSON K. (2012) Registered nurses' health in community elderly care in Sweden. International Nursing Review59, 409–415

Aim:  To describe registered nurses' (RNs) ratings of their work-related health problems, sickness presence and sickness absence in community care of older people. To describe RNs' perceptions of time, competence and emotional pressure at work. To describe associations between time, knowledge and emotional pressure with RNs' perceptions of work-related health problems, sickness presence and sickness absence.

Background:  There is a global nursing shortage. It is a challenge to provide working conditions that enable RNs to deliver quality nursing care.

Method:  A descriptive design and a structured questionnaire were used. 213 RNs in 60 care homes for older people participated, with a response rate of 62%.

Findings:  RNs' reported work-related health problems, such as neck/back disorders, dry skin/dry mucous membranes, muscles/joints disorders, sleep disorders and headache. They had periods of fatigue/unhappiness/sadness because of their work (37%). Most of the RNs felt at times psychologically exhausted after work, with difficulties leaving their thoughts of work behind. RNs stated high sickness presence (68%) and high sickness absence (63%). They perceived high time pressure, adequate competence and emotional pressure at work. There was a weak to moderate correlation between RNs' health problems and time pressure.

Discussion:  We cannot afford a greater shortage of RNs in community care of older people. Politicians and employers need to develop a coordinated package of policies that provide a long-term and sustainable solution with healthy workplaces.

Conclusion:  It is important to prevent RNs' work-related health problems and time pressure at work.

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