Oz study finds nurses’ health not so healthy

3 March 2014

Nurse’s health across the Tasman falls between “poor” and “average”, with many feeling stressed and unhealthy, according to a survey of 6000 nurses.

“Not surprisingly, many nurses feel that they are ‘unhealthy’ with stress identified as the biggest contributing factor to obesity, hypertension, respiratory disease, musculoskeletal problems, being at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and ‘not looking after myself properly’,” said Kay Ross, one of the lead researchers for the nationwide survey.

The survey of nurses’ health and wellness was undertaken by Southern Cross University’s school of health, with funding support from the government’s chronic disease prevention fund.

Ross said bullying was also identified as a workplace health issue contributing to stress. Many nurses also expressed concern about their workload, impact of job losses and not being able to give patients the care they needed.

The survey showed that many nurses reported having a chronic illness resulting in them needing to take time off work in the previous 12 months. Three per cent of respondents had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and a large number were at high risk of developing diabetes within the next five years.

“Participants were asked to rate the overall health of Australian nurses. The results suggest that the overall health of nurses fell between poor and average. Only a small number believed their overall health was good or very good,” Ross said.

Most survey respondents felt that nurses should be role models for patients when talking about lifestyle risk factors – such as stress, exercise, nutrition and drinking -and that they needed to be healthy as well.