Survey results: The #1 cause of a nurse’s stress


Figure 3 below shows the sources of work stress for nurses working in a hospital setting versus a non-hospital environment. Nurses working in a hospital say that teamwork and productivity are greater sources of stress. Pay and supervisors appear to be more common stressors for those working in clinics, continuing care and home care.

Figure 3: Average Stress Factors Scores by Work Location

Figure 4: Average Stress Factors Scores by Years of Work Experience

Finally, in Figure 4 we compare the stress factors perceived by nurses working 5 years or less versus those nurses who have been working for more than 20 years. The younger nurses see teamwork, work scheduling and personal productivity as greater sources of stress than do the more experienced nurses.

The top ten individual stressors identified in this study were (from highest to lowest):

  • It is hard to receive a promotion. (Q2)
  • My job is demanding and creates tension. (Q35)
  • Angry or tense relationships exist at work. (Q26)
  • Conflict among co-workers causes a poor work environment. (Q33)
  • Clients / patients are becoming more difficult and demanding. (Q30)
  • Some things about my job are a problem. (Q18)
  • Communications with some of my co-workers is a problem. (Q4)
  • My supervisor does not make constructive suggestions on how I can do things more effectively. (Q41)
  • My supervisor does not let me know when I am doing a good job. (Q27)
  • There is not enough staff to adequately do the required work.( Q21)

Factors that caused the least stress among our nurses were (starting with least):

  • I know in advance what hours I will work. (Q40)
  • Personal commitments interfere with my work performance. (Q16)
  • I’m satisfied with my career choice. (Q10)
  • I lose time at work because of personal or family problems. (Q6)
  • Employer policy on payment of wages creates problems. (Q8)
  • I get support and assistance from my co-workers. (Q9)
  • I have health issues that keep me away from work. (Q39)
  • I am interested in, and happy with, my job. (Q25)
  • Everyone pitches in when a job needs to get done. (Q23)
  • I am able to complete my work before I go home for the day. (Q44)

The usual cautions apply to this research study. The sample size is relative small and it is unknown whether the respondents are representative of the larger population of nurses. However, the findings do provide some clues as to the levels and causes of work stress for the profession of nursing.

How do you compare? Take the Work Stress Profile at and compare your results to the ones published here. Then get the resources you need to effectively reduce stress at your workplace.

The Learning Nurse Resource Network ( provides safe, convenient, online informal learning opportunities for nurses and nursing students world-wide. Learning Nurse is a hassle-free, independent, educational resource with no registration, no ads and no fees! Learning resources include competency self-assessment tools, a test and quiz center (100 plus nursing quizzes with over 6,500 questions), an e-Learning center, personality diagnostic tools, links to medical videos and podcasts, and other information / links of interest to the nursing profession. Learning Nurse, created in April 2008, was designed and is operated / hosted by Steppingstones Partnership, Inc.

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