Stressors in the ICU: A comparison of patients' and nurses' perceptions

Pounds Siu Kau Pang, Kwai Ping Lorna Suen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives. The aim of the study was to compare the stressors as perceived by patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) against those of nurses on the basis of their perceptions of patients' stressors. Background. Getting admitted to an ICU is viewed as a stressful event by patients. However, numerous studies have indicated that nurses do not always accurately perceive the stressors of their clients. Therefore, it is important for nurses to know what seems most stressful from the patients' perspective so that appropriate nursing measures can be directed towards minimising such stressors. Design. Survey. Methods. As a convenience sample, 60 patients and 54 critical care nurses were recruited. The Intensive Care Unit Stressor Questionnaire (Chinese) (ICU-CSQ) was used to collect the perceptions of stressors by the patients. Nurses were also asked to rate the items in the said questionnaire according to how they believe patients would rate them. Results. In every comparison, nurses evaluated the items to be significantly more stressful than patients did. Overall perceived stress levels of nurses were also significantly higher than those of their patients (z = -8·78, p < 0·001). Conclusions. Nurses tended to rate the items as more stressful than did the patients, perhaps over-emphasising the stressful nature of the ICU. The findings also highlight the importance of cultural beliefs on the perceived stress levels among the Chinese population. Relevance to clinical practice. Findings in this study have strong implications in clinical practice, especially in a critical care setting. Nurses must attempt to identify and endeavour to cope with the situations that patients listed as most stressful. Moreover, attention must be drawn towards measures aimed at relieving the stress of patients by taking into account their cultural values so that culture-specific interventions for reducing their stress can be established.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2681-2689
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Intensive care
  • Nurses
  • Nursing
  • Perceptions
  • Stress
  • Stressors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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