Distress and Coping Self-Efficacy in Inpatient Oncology Nurses

Lara Wahlberg

Anita Nirenberg

Elizabeth Capezuti

oncology nurses, distress, compassion fatigue, occupational stress, burnout, coping self-efficacy
ONF 2016, 43(6), 738-746. DOI: 10.1188/16.ONF.738-746

Purpose/Objectives: To examine distress and coping self-efficacy in inpatient oncology nurses.

Design: Cross-sectional survey design.

Setting: Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) chapter meetings and Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, both in New York, New York, as well as social media.

Sample: 163 oncology nurses who work with an inpatient adult population.

Methods: Participants were recruited through the ONS New York, New York, area chapter meetings, Hunter College, and ONS Facebook pages. An adapted Nurse Distress Thermometer (NDT) measured distress levels. The Occupational Coping Self-Efficacy Questionnaire for Nurses (OCSE-N) used a Likert-type scale to measure coping self-efficacy. Open-ended questions elicited additional perceptions of nurse respondents.

Main Research Variables: Descriptive statistics summarized sample demographics. A Pearson correlation between distress levels and coping self-efficacy scores was calculated. Low, normal, and high coping scores were compared to mean distress levels.

Findings: Survey participants showed high levels of distress, with a mean NDT score of 8.06. Those with higher coping self-efficacy scores reported less distress. A moderate, negative correlation was shown, with a statistically significant Pearson coefficient of –0.371. Responses to the open-ended questions revealed common stressors and pointed to solutions that institutions might implement to support nurses.

Conclusions: Because coping self-efficacy related to lower distress levels in inpatient oncology nurses, institutional-level support for oncology nurses should be provided.

Implications for Nursing: Interventions aimed at coping self-efficacy may prepare oncology nurses to cope better with their professional demands. Future research should explore how nurse distress affects patients.

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