Term of Award

Winter 1991

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair


Committee Member 1


Committee Member 2

Marisa A. Conway


The purpose of this study was. to compare critical care unit (CCU) nurses' and patients' perceptions of stress factors for patients in the CCU environment. The research questions were:

1. Which stressors do hospitalized CCU patients perceive to be the most significant?

2. What do nurses report as their perception of the most significant patient stressors in CCUs?

3. What is the relationship between the patients' reports of perceived stressors and CCU nurses reports of patients' perceived stressors.

This comparative-descriptive study included a sample of 40 patients transferred from CCUs and 40 Registered Nurses employed in CCUs. A convenience sample was obtained from nine CCUs in three hospitals in a metropolitan area of the southeastern United States. Data were collected using a Personal Data Questionnaire and the Intensive Care Unit Environmental Stressor Scale (ICUESS). The ICUESS was designed to assess the level of perceived stressfulness of both patients and nurses in the critical care unit environment. Data were collected from the nurses by requesting them to complete the instruments following a shift worked in a CCU. Nurses were asked to complete the ICUESS by indicating the responses that they thought most CCU patients would indicate. Patient data were collected within 72 hours following transfer from a CCU. Comparison of group results from the ICUESS were analyzed using the Mann Whitney U Test and the independent T test.

It was found that nurses reported higher levels of stress for patients than did the patients themselves on all of the items on the ICUESS. Comparison of all items was significant at the level 0.05 when analyzed by both parametric and nonparametric statistical methods. The results were consistent among the three hospitals and types of CCUs.

Findings support those of previous studies in that nurses consistently perceive environmental stimuli as being more stressful than do patients. Findings of the study need to be made available to CCU nurses, to facilitate nursing focus on identified high patient stressors and minimize concern of the nurses about other environmental stimuli.


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