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Curationis. 2017 Mar 16;40(1):e1-e8. doi: 10.4102/curationis.v40i1.1578.

A profile of perceived stress factors among nursing staff working with intellectually disabled in-patients at the Free State Psychiatric Complex, South Africa.

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Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State.



Nursing staff working with intellectually disabled in-patients experience unique stress factors that can influence their personal well-being and work performance.


To compile a profile of stress factors experienced by nursing staff working with intellectually disabled in-patients at the Free State Psychiatric Complex (FSPC).


This descriptive study included 89 nursing staff members from this environment. A questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic information and determine personal and occupational stressors. The data were summarised by frequencies and percentages (categorical variables) and means or percentiles (numerical variables).


Most participants were aged between 46 and 55 (41.2%), female (93.2%) and black (93.2%), and 76.7% had children or dependant minors. The main stressors among participants were pressure providing financially for their children and dependant minors (71.2%), caring for them (39.4%) and fearing them moving away (25.8%). Occupational stressors included high workload (66.3%), lack of decision-making by superiors (58.1%), underpayment (53.5%), endangerment of physical health (52.3%) and safety (50.0%), working hours (51.2%), pressure of expectations from superiors (48.8%), uncertainty of employment (48.8%), work responsibilities (47.7%) and perceiving that skills and training were not appreciated. They experienced stress regarding health issues such as hyper- and hypotension (35.3%). Because of stress 34.5% of participants took leave, 34.5% developed depression and 14.3% had panic attacks.


Most of the respondents experienced personal and occupational stress that influenced their health, which poses serious challenges for the management of the FSPC. Security should be upgraded, medical and psychological support for the staff and care facilities for their dependants should be provided, and financial problems experienced by these staff members should be addressed. The workload of the nursing staff at FSPC needs urgent attention. This can be done by means of a workforce analysis to determine minimum staffing levels for nursing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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