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Exploring the Stresses and Health of the Nurses in the Psychiatric Hospitals in Eastern Taiwan: Does the Leisure Destination Location Help Nurses Cope with Stress?

Feng-Chuan Pan and Sen-Jih Chen

Background: It has been suggested that nurses who care for the mentally ill patients are exposed to increased stress and have poorer health status. Leisure and tourism have been proposed to be effective sources of stress coping. The purpose of this research was to investigate stress and health of nurses working in the psychiatric hospitals in the eastern Taiwan, which was known for its excellent tourism resources.

Methods: Samples were purposively selected from the nursing staffs of two major psychiatry hospitals in the region. Overall, 333 valid responses were gathered using Short Form-36 (SF-36) for health status and the Nursing Staffs Pressure Scale measuring job stressors.

Results: The perceived job stress varied significantly by age and job position. The perceived health status varied significantly by services, seniorities, marital, and numbers of children. The job stress correlated negatively with the health status. Family obligation and person-environment fit may explain why nurses in this particular area experience higher stress and poorer health status compared to their colleagues in the west.

Conclusion: Although nurses in the eastern Taiwan receive relatively attractive compensation package and enjoy social status in an economically less developed area with abundant tourism resources, they experience higher stress and worse health. Nursing professionals with higher socio-economic status are in fact inversely exposed to greater stress, of which detrimental to their levels of person-environment fit. Since the leisure and tourism resources may not be effective alternatives for coping with stress and the family obligation has a strong association with the poor health status, a supportive system is apparently needed.