Stress and fatigue in intensive care unit nurses in Sofia
Stoyanova R., Cekova I., Vangelova K.
National Center of Public Health and Analyses – Sofia, Bulgaria
Full article (PDF), ENG
Abstract: Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses provide constant, highly specialized and specific care for patients with acute and severe chronic conditions, which is a prerequisite for higher levels of stress.
The aim of the study was to follow and compare the level of cortisol in saliva and the self-rated stress, sleepiness and fatigue in ICU nurses with those of nurses working in clinical wards.
Methods: The study comprised 48 female hospital nurses of average age 49.7 ± 11.5 years, 16 from the ICU and 32 from clinical wards. 10 of the ICU nurses were studied during the day shifts and 6 during the night shifts and 16 ward nurses during the day and night shifts. Salivary cortisol levels and self-rated stress, sleepiness and fatigue were monitored at four-hour intervals. A questionnaire concerning stress symptoms was filled at the end of the day and night shifts. Statistical analysis was carried using SPSS.
Results: The cortisol retained the typical diurnal rhythm with significantly higher values and large variation during the shifts in nurses in ICU compared to clinical wards. The self-rated stress, sleepiness and fatigue increased as the shifts progressed, with no significant differences between groups and shifts. The nurses felt tense, irritated and very exhausted at the end of the shifts, they considered that the workload was high and that breaks during the shifts were insufficient.
Conclusions: The data of the study show an increased health risk in the nurses, especially in those working in the ICU.
Key words: stress, fatigue, cortisol, intensive care unit, 12-hour shifts.
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