Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Nursing (M.S.N.)

Degree Program

College of Nursing

First Advisor

Emily Droste-Bielak

Second Advisor

Patricia Underwood

Third Advisor

Virginia L. Stamler


The purpose of this research was to compare perceived stress levels of registered nurses employed in medical-surgical units to perceived stress levels of registered nurses employed in critical care units. A descriptive, correlational study was conducted using Wolfgang's (1988) Health Professions Stress Inventory. Perceptions of stress were measured and related to specialty, years of experience, years of nursing education, hours worked per week, and shift worked. A convenience sample of 102 registered nurses from two midwestern hospitals participated by a self administered questionnaire. Study findings included: medical-surgical nurses perceived significantly higher levels of stress than critical care nurses; stressors for medical-surgical nurses were related to workload; stressors for critical care nurses were related to staffing and responsibility; there was no significant relationship between nursing experience or nursing education and perceptions of stress; and there was no significant difference between hours per week or shift worked and perceptions of stress.


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