Strengthening workplace well-being: perceptions of intensive care nurses

This article by Jarden et al was published in the September 2018 issue of Nursing in Critical Care.
Background:  Intensive care nursing is a professionally challenging role, elucidated in the body of research focusing on nurses’ ill-being, including burnout, stress, moral distress and compassion fatigue. Although scant, research is growing in relation to the elements contributing to critical care nurses’ workplace well-being. Little is currently known about how intensive care nurse well-being is strengthened in the workplace, particularly from the intensive care nurse perspective.
Aims and Objectives:  Identify intensive care nurses’ perspectives of strategies that strengthen their workplace well-being.
Design:  An inductive descriptive qualitative approach was used to explore intensive care nurses’ perspectives of strengthening work well-being.
Method:  New Zealand intensive care nurses were asked to report strategies strengthening their workplace well-being in two free-text response items within a larger online survey of well-being.
Findings:  Sixty-five intensive care nurses identified 69 unique strengtheners of workplace well-being. Strengtheners included nurses drawing from personal resources, such as mindfulness and yoga. Both relational and organizational systems’ strengtheners were also evident, including peer supervision, formal debriefing and working as a team to support each other.
Conclusions:  Strengtheners of intensive care nurses’ workplace well-being extended across individual, relational and organizational resources. Actions such as simplifying their lives, giving and receiving team support and accessing employee assistance programmes were just a few of the intensive care nurses’ identified strengtheners. These findings inform future strategic workplace well-being programmes, creating opportunities for positive change.
Relevance to clinical practice:  Intensive care nurses have a highly developed understanding of workplace well-being strengtheners. These strengtheners extend from the personal to inter-professional to organizational. The extensive range of strengtheners the nurses have identified provides a rich source for the development of future workplace well-being programmes for critical care.
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