A newly developed psychometric instrument for evaluating occupational stress was described. The instrument developed by NIOSH consisted of a generic questionnaire package that contained scales that measured specific stressor, strain, and mediating variable constructs. The empirical measures were selected from recently published articles in the job stress literature according to the criteria: evidence of validity and acceptable reliability, absence of a stressor/strain confounding effect, and having been used in previous studies. The package was tested by administering it to approximately 700 nurses in 50 nursing facilities and ten nursing speciality areas in the provinces of New Foundland and Labrador, Canada. Mean job stressor scores were compared with existing norms to identify potential stressors. Role conflict, role ambiguity, variation in work load, quantitative work load, job future ambiguity, and underutilization of ability were identified as potential stressors. Multiple regression analysis showed that role conflict, quantitative work load, job future ambiguity, and underutilization were predictive of job dissatisfaction. Role conflict, variation in work load, and role ambiguity were predictive of somatic complaints. Role demands, quantitative work load, and variation in work load were significant stressors in surgical and emergency room nurses. The authors suggest that role conflict and to a lesser extent quantitative work load, variation in work load, job future ambiguity, and underutilization of skills are stressors for nurses. Surgical and emergency room nurses should be considered prime candidates for stressor abatement and stress management programs.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA