Nurses in remote areas of Australia have high levels of psychological distress, stress, trauma and emotional exhaustion, according to a new research project.
The Centre for Remote Health study also found remote area nurses (RANs) enjoy moderate levels of work satisfaction and high levels of work engagement.
The research, in the project titled Back from the Edge: Reducing and preventing occupational stress to remote area nursing workforce, hopes to help reduce and prevent occupational stress for RANs.
Centre for Remote Health lecturer Sue Lenthall will present the paper at the 11th National Rural Health Conference, held at the Perth Exhibition Convention Centre from March 13-16.
The biennial conference aims to provide answers to a range of health-related challenges facing the seven million people who live in country Australia.
Groups of RANs and health service managers working in remote Indigenous communities in central Australia and at the top end of the Northern Territory
met in discussion groups to consider the results of the national survey.
They developed action plans targeting organisational rather than individual changes, which were later work-shopped with implementation committees of middle managers.
Ms Lenthall said the four-year long survey found key stress factors included the frequency of emergencies, feelings of responsibility and unrealistic expectations from patients and health services.
"Our survey showed that high levels of occupational stress among RANs are contributing to turnover of staff and quality of health service delivery," she said.
"By employing a bottom-up action research approach, RANs were empowered to contribute to system change to decrease occupational stress."