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Title: Physiological and psychological indicators of stress in a longitudinal study of nurses in the workplace.
Author: Hibbert, Agnes.
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 1998
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Physiological and psychological indicators of stress were measured in a cohort of 20 female nurses working 12 hour, 7.5 hour and 'nine to five' shift patterns in intensive care units conducted over a period of four years. Saliva samples were collected by each subject at four specified times during each shift over a period for one week and repeated every few months. Two consecutive days were used to compare days on duty, days off duty and the first day at work following days off. Salivary cortisol levels were measured by RIA. Secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA), also a physiological indicator of stress, was determined with an indirect sandwich ELISA using a monoclonal antibody. Salivary cortisol levels of nurses were higher and SIgA levels lower prior to starting 12 hour shift following a day off compared with nurses working other shifts. Simultaneous psychological measures obtained by selfreports of perceived demands, coping and moods showed these nurses did not perceive themselves to be stressed. The findings of the study suggest that nurses working 12 hour shifts prepare for work differently perhaps in anticipation of long hours of work. Furthermore, salivary cortisol levels were considerably higher compared with those cited in studies of acute stress under laboratory conditions. In contrast, 20 nurses undertaking an academic examination, considered an acute stressful event, reported increased anxiety and mental and emotional demands and had higher salivary cortisol concentrations prior to the event, albeit lower than the longitudinal study. SIgA levels were lower prior to the examination but not significantly so. A positive correlation between cortisol and SIgA levels was apparent, however, only 6 months later when the subjects no longer perceived themselves to be stressed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Stress physiology, human Stress (Physiology) Aviation medicine Medical care Industrial hygiene Medicine, Industrial