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Stress and mental health in neonatal intensive care units.
  1. R. K. Oates,
  2. P. Oates
  1. Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


    The views of 34 neonatologists (a 78% response rate) and 192 neonatal intensive care nurses (a 66% response rate) were obtained on work, stress, and relationships in neonatal intensive care units. The survey was conducted by post and included Goldberg's General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). A comparison of the responses of neonatologists and nurses to 21 identical statements showed significant differences in 12. Most neonatologists felt that they involved nurses in critical patient care decisions, provided adequate pain relief for their patients, gave nurses adequate information on patients' progress after discharge, and were aware of little doctor-nurse conflict. However, the nurses' responses differed significantly in these areas, suggesting that the neonatologists may have a more rosy view of life in the neonatal intensive care unit than their nurse colleagues. Twenty seven per cent of neonatologists and 32% of nurses had GHQ scores indicating psychological dysfunction. The neonatologists who had dysfunctional scores differed from their colleagues in only one area surveyed--a higher proportion experienced conflict between the demands of their work and their personal lives.

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