ICU Nurses Can Benefit from Workplace Intervention to Reduce Stress

A study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center indicated a strong link between workplace intervention and reducing the stress levels of nurses in highly nerve-racking environments. Members of a surgical ICU team were put through an 8-week study to see the affects of performing stress-reducing activities.

The 8-week intervention included mindfulness, stretching, yoga, meditation, and music therapy. One group was a control group and was not exposed to these activities, and the other group routinely performed these activities. Psychological and biological indicators of stress were measured one week before and one week after the intervention to see if any of these activities would help to reduce the stress of the nurses.

The results of the study showed that performing stress-reducing interventions led to a decrease in chronic stress and a decrease in nurses’ reactions to stress. The levels of a chemical called “salivary alpha amylase” (a chemical associated with stress) were measured in both groups and were found to be significantly lower in the intervention group, whereas the control group had zero change in levels.

The stress that ICU nurses experience is never going to change and cannot be controlled.   However, what can be controlled are the nurses’ reactions and responses to that stress. This study shows that mindfulness-based interventions in the workplace can help to reduce stress levels in nurses and their risk of burnout.

The stress that accompanies a job as an ICU nurse can be significant and can negatively affect health, safety, and functionality. Physical, mental, and emotional states of being are extremely important aspects of performance, and establishing some sort of intervention to reduce stress levels among nurses can be the key to maintaining nursing excellence and patient safety.