Components of stress for 22 paediatric consultants and 29 nursing sisters working in neonatal intensive care units were studied. Ten situations were rated for their intensity of stress and their frequency of occurrence. For intensity of stress, significantly more paediatric consultants rated the competing demands of personal life versus work as highly stressful, than did nursing sisters. For frequency of stress, significantly more paediatric consultants rated 4 situations as frequently occurring than did nursing sisters (priorities of care, understaffing/overwork, personal life versus work, condition of outborn infants). However, significantly more nursing sisters found problems in working with their peers a frequently occurring stress than paediatric consultants. Total scores calculated for intensity and frequency of stress showed that although the overall intensity of stress experienced was similar, paediatric consultants had a significantly higher mean score for frequency of stress than nursing sisters in the neonatal intensive care unit.
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