Stresses identified in this communication are those observed in nurses assigned to a four-bed unit in the Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. This intensive-care unit (ICU) is designed to facilitate the recovery of individual patients after general and radical surgical procedures, but not open-heart or neurological operation. Most of the surgery has been done because of cancer, often following prior extensive but unsuccessful attempts at curative radiation. Radical procedures for cancer included head and neck dissection, pelvic exenteration, hemipelvectomy, and thoracic surgery. The length of patient stay in the unit varied from a few hours to as long as five weeks.
Stresses experienced by nurses in this setting have been, with minor variations, comparable to those found in most intensive care units.
Nature of Nurse Stress
When asked to describe the stresses in the intensive-care unit, the nurse most frequently and promptly identifies the effect upon her