Alt Title

Description of stresses of nurses on oncology units

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Frank-Stromborg, Marilyn

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Nursing


Nursing--Psychological aspects; Cancer--Nursing; Stress (Psychology)


Nurses throughout time have been confronted with many anxiety- producing situations. The very nature of the profession leaves nurses at considerable risk for being flooded by intense and unmanageable anxiety. The researcher believes that there are specific, definable work-related stressors for nurses caring for cancer patients and their families on a daily basis. The purposes of this project were to: (1) verify work-related stressors for nurses working in oncology, and (2) determine the degree to which these factors were perceived as stressful by these nurses. The study was carried out by surveying four hospitals with oncology (cancer) units in the state of Ohio. All registered nurses (RN's) working on the four oncology units were invited to participate by filling out an anonymous questionnaire, the Emery Stress Survey. The Emery Stress Survey was developed by the researcher and investigated areas of possible work-related stress for the RN including: (1) patients/families, (2) nursing staff/ administration, (3) physicians, (4) environment/staffing, and (5) education. Upon receiving written consent from each institution, the Emery Stress Survey was distributed by a representative of the hospital to the nurses on the oncology unit. A cover letter explained the project and gave instructions for completing the questionnaire. A self-addressed stamped envelope was provided for return of the survey to the researcher. Data collection took place between July 15 and August 31, 1980. The response to each question within the survey was considered to ascertain if the item was perceived as stressful by the nurse. If stressful, the frequency and degree of stress was determined by using raw numbers and percentages. The study found that emotional aspects of the job ranked high as major sources of stress for the participants. Feeling angry and/or depressed about work was rated as the most stressful situation for the nurses in this study. Other situations reported as emotionally stressful were: feeling hopeless and helpless, getting emotionally involved with patients/families, and being with dying people. Another area of stress was difficulty with communication. The nurses responded that a lack of communication between physician and patient, as well as between nurse and physician, was frustrating. The respondents felt that this lack of communication resulted in a breakdown of communication between the nurse and the patient. The participants also perceived inadequate staffing, high rate of staff turnover, and heavy workload as major areas of stress. These three stressors affect the nurse's ability to provide optimum patient care. The information gained from this study can be utilized by hospital administration and the nursing profession in planning interventions to reduce and minimize stressors that are unique to this area of specialization within nursing.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes map.


vi, 80 pages




Northern Illinois University

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