Gender assessment of job stress in healthcare workers. Implications for practice

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Gabriele d'Ettorre
Vincenza Pellicani
Annamaria Vullo


Stress; Risk assessment; Nurses; Emergency department; Social support.


Background: Work-related stress (WRS) in the healthcare sector is a major issue for both workers and organizations. To date, no consensus exists regarding differences in gender susceptibility to WRS in healthcare workers (HCWs). Objectives: The purpose of this study was to analyze how male and female HCWs employed in emergency departments experienced WRS. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted regarding the perception of WRS in registered nurses employed in emergency departments. The Italian version of the Job Content Questionnaire and the Rapid Stress Assessment scale were administrated to 710 registered nurses. Results: The WRS assessment showed that significantly more females than males were in a situation of isostrain (18.5% vs 9.8% p<0,05). In females, low social support was associated with high levels of job strain (18,5% vs 4,4% p<0,05). Conclusion: This study reflects the need for a gender-specific approach in the evaluation of WRS in the healthcare sector, and is consistent with literature that evidenced gender differences in the perception of WRS. Lack of social support proved to be a determinant of WRS in female HCWs. Organizational interventions aimed at providing a more suitable workgroup design are required in order to minimize WRS in female HCWs.

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