Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Everlyn T. Peterson


The nursing profession has a high attrition rate with respect to its work force. A 1977 study conducted by the United States Department of Labor estimated that twenty-seven percent of the total nurse population was neither employed nor looking for work. Holding this percentage constant for the 1980 statistics, there are approximately 400,000 additional registered nurses who are not working today. White asserts that "burnout" is the primary factor responsible for the attrition rate among professional nurses. Burnout is defined by Lavendero as the ineffective ability to cope with stress in the work environment. He argues that conclusive evidence concerning the causal factors of nursing stress is limited and that research is needed to identify specific stressors. The professional literature indicates that stress occurs in response to "stressors" within the work environment. Several of these stressors have been identified through nursing research, but their relationships to specific attributes of the environment have rarely been studied. One aspect of the work environment is the physical environment. Nurses generally work within a specified geographic area of a hospital, known as the nursing unit. The physical attributes of nursing units may vary among hospitals and among units within hospitals. This researcher believes that these differences in the physical attributes of units may significantly alter the types and numbers of stressors which arise within this work environment, and, therefore, the frequencies with which nurses perceive stress. This study explores the relationships of a nursing unit's physical attributes to the frequency of perceived stressful situations on that unit. What is the relationship between the physical attributes of a nursing unit and the frequency with which that unit's registered nurses perceive stressful situations? The nurse manager should become knowledgeable of the relationships of nurse reported stress to the physical characteristics of nursing units. Knowledge of these environmental relationships may be used by nurse managers to reduce or maintain environmental stressors at levels which are conducive to optimal nursing productivity. The results of this study may also be used in evaluating and renovating existing nursing unit structures or may be used by planners and architects in designing new nursing units.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Nurses -- Job stress
Hospitals -- Employees



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State