Work-related stress in nursing: Controlling the risk to health

This paper focuses on the management of work-related stress in hospital-based nursing. It is written as an aid to both education and practical action.

Part 1 of this paper provides an educational introduction to the hazards of nursing, work-related stress and the notion of the control cycle as an approach to stress management.

Part 2 provides the framework for risk assessments and subsequent action in relation to work-related stress and nursing. Here it has been written as much as a development aid as a prescription for action. It is suggested that each hospital wishing to use the described approach first establishes a "risk assessment / risk management" team that studies and discusses the approach in some detail. It should then attempt a pilot assessment / management project and reflect not only on its results but also on the processes involved in their implementation. The risk assessment / risk management team may then wish to modify those processes before using them again. They may wish to treat the whole initiative as a development cycle crafting, tailoring and fine-tuning the processes involved to best fit and serve their local context.

Different groups will be involved in different stages in the overall process. All those involved with nursing activities should be educated in relation to the hazards of the work, and risk assessment / risk management. Nurse supervisors and nurse representatives and hospital management, both general and functional, also need to be involved in risk assessment and risk management, but in different ways at different times. This differential involvement is made clear in the paper.

Finally, the paper is focused on hospital-based nurses, but does not further distinguish between different types of hospital-based nurse. The evidence is that this is not necessary.