Smyth, W., Lindsay, D., Holmes, C., Gardner, A. & Rahman, KM. (2016). Self-reported long-term conditions of nurses and midwives across a northern Australian health service: A survey. International Journal of Nursing Studies,62 22-35. United Kingdom: Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2016.07.008
Background Although nurses generally constitute the largest component of the health workforce there is no systematic collection of data about their health status. Similarly, little is known about how nurses manage any long-term condition they may have, which could contribute to their reducing hours of employment or leaving the workforce completely. Such information will become more important against the backdrop of a global shortage of nurses, and ageing of the nursing population. Objectives This study aimed to identify the types and impacts of reported long-term conditions, and strategies employed by nurses to manage their conditions. Design A cross-sectional survey design was used. Settings The setting was a large regional health service in North Queensland, Australia, comprising a tertiary referral hospital, two residential aged care facilities and several rural and remote hospitals and community health services. Participants All full-time, part-time and casual nurses and midwives employed within the health service were invited to participate; 665 (30.9%) completed surveys were returned. Methods A paper-based questionnaire, comprising six sections, was individually addressed to all potential participants, together with reply-paid envelopes for returning completed questionnaires. The anonymous questionnaire took approximately 15 to 25 min to complete, less time if the nurse reported no long-term conditions. Results Three-fifths of respondents had at least one long-term condition. Respondents older than 50 years were statistically more likely to report having at least one long-term condition (χ2 = 5.64, p = 0.018). Back pain, migraine and asthma were the most frequently reported individual conditions; more than one-quarter of respondents reported a condition relating to mental health and wellbeing. Respondents who reported more than one long-term condition compared to a single long-term condition were statistically more likely to have had more years of nursing experience (t = 02.2, p = 0.03). Nurses used a combination of varied personal and workplace strategies for many conditions; however personal strategies were most frequently used for all conditions. Conclusions This survey elicited information about reported long-term conditions, and strategies that nurses used to manage the condition they considered most important to them. We recommend that further investigation into how the full range of workplace strategies could be implemented to assist nurses to manage long-term conditions.
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