Date of Conferral







Amy E. Sickel


Increased levels of stress in the workplace have led the American Psychological Association to predict a looming public health crisis. Critical care nurses (CCNs) are highly exposed to stressors in the workplace, more than other nurses. Tens of billion dollars were reported lost in productive work time yearly due to ill health from depression alone. An important gap remains in understanding the relationships of stressors with the amount of stress. Supported by the biopsychosocial stress theory, the purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between frequencies of perceived stressors (IVs) as a source of perceived levels of stress (DV) or allostasis. The mixed-methods study included an online questionnaire and an e-mail interview of 400 hospital-based CCNs from professional nurses' associations in the United States. The Nursing Stress Scale was used to determine the kinds and frequencies of IVs, while the Psychological Stress Measure was used to assess the DV. Multiple regression analysis assessed the strength and direction of the relationships between IVs and DV. Interviews fell short of the minimum sample size for saturation and were not analyzed. Quantitative findings indicated workload as the most frequently perceived stressor, correlating positively with allostasis (p = .0005). Death and dying, conflict with other nurses, and lack of support for CCNs were also statistically significant (p < .05). Implications to practice and social change include promoting changes in policy with management support to reduce workload, death and dying, conflict with other nurses, and lack of social support for CCNs. Personal behavior changes like relaxation and physical exercises as coping methods may also reduce levels stress.