Coping With Serious Events at Work: A Study of Traumatic Stress Among Nurses

Bianca M. Buurman, Arno P. M. Mank, Hein J. M. Beijer, Miranda Olff

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BACKGROUND: Nurses often encounter serious events during their work, which can lead to traumatic stress.

OBJECTIVE: To examine how serious events, demographic variables, and coping strategies are associated with traumatic stress in a sample of nurses working in the medical department of a university teaching hospital.

DESIGN: The data for this survey were collected in 2003. Two questionnaires were completed by nurses: the Utrecht Coping List (UCL) and the List of Serious Events and Traumatic Stress in Nursing (Nursing LIST).

RESULTS: The 69 nurses who participated in the study had experienced a mean of 8 serious events in the past 5 years. In all, 98% of all nurses reported traumatic stress. Active coping, social support, and comforting cognitions were independently associated with traumatic stress.

CONCLUSION: The participating nurses had experienced multiple serious events, and many felt traumatized. Active coping decreased the risk of experiencing traumatic stress, whereas comforting cognitions and social support increased the likelihood of appraising a serious event as traumatic. More research needs to be conducted to support these findings and to develop strategies to support nurses after serious events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-329
JournalJournal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


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