Morale, stress and coping strategies of staff working in the emergency department: A comparison of two different-sized departments – 2018

Clinical staff in EDs are subject to a range of stressors. The objective of this study was to describe and compare clinical staff perceptions of their ED’s working environment across two different Australian EDs.

This was a cross-sectional, descriptive, research design that included distribution of three survey tools to clinical staff in two Australian EDs in 2016. Descriptive statistics were reported to characterise workplace stressors, coping styles and the ED environment. These data were compared by hospital and the employee’s clinical role (nurse or physician).

In total, 146 ED nurses and doctors completed the survey (response rate: 67%). Despite geographical variation, the staff at the two locations had similar demographic profiles in terms of age, sex and years of experience. Staff reported moderate levels of workload and self-realisation but low levels of conflict or nervousness in the workplace. Nurses and physicians reported similar perceptions of the work environment, although nurses reported slightly higher median levels of workload. Staff rated the death or sexual abuse of a child as most stressful, followed by workplace violence and heavy workload. Staff used a large range of coping strategies, and these were similar across both sites.

These findings are the first multi-site and multidisciplinary examinations of Australian ED staff perceptions, improving our understanding of staff stressors and coping strategies and highlighting similarities across different EDs. These data support the development and implementation of strategies to improve ED working environments to help ensure professional longevity of ED staff.

Louisa J Abraham, Ogilvie Thom, Jaimi H Greenslade, Marianne Wallis, Amy NB Johnston, Eric Carlström, Donna Mills, Julia Crilly
Emergency Medicine Australasia, 23 January 2018
DOI: 10.1111/1742-6723.12895