Psychological distress on nurses: the role of personal and professional characteristics

Clara Simães*, A. Rui Gomes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study explored the role of nurses’ personal and professional characteristics on the expression of psychological distress, overcoming the limitations of studying humans’ responses to work environments using the stress-strain approach. The sample consisted of 2203 registered nurses working in Portugal. The investigation protocol included a Sociodemographic and Professional Questionnaire and the Portuguese version of the General Health Questionnaire-12. A high percentage of nurses (79.3%) showed levels of psychological distress, deserving for clinical attention. Significant differences were found between nurses with and without clinical symptoms of psychological distress. Female nurses, those working in primary health care, and nurses with no hobby and no physical exercise behaviors, presented significant levels of distress, deserving for clinical attention. These nurses reported high levels of anxiety/depression and social dysfunction. More, the absence of a hobby and the lack of physical exercise behaviors constituted as risk factors for the experience of clinical symptoms of distress, anxiety/depression and social dysfunction. These findings represent an important issue in occupational stress research, suggesting that leisure activities may be a protective factor for nurses’ mental health, acting as a “Daily Uplifts” for the stress recovery balance. Thus, in order to ensure the patients’ safety and the quality of health care, health organizations must consider nurses’ personal and professional characteristics that influence their mental health and global functioning when developing occupational health programs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOccupational and environmental safety and health
EditorsPedro M. Arezes, João S. Baptista, Mónica P. Barroso, Paula Carneiro, Patrício Cordeiro, Nélson Costa, Rui B. Melo, A. Sérgio Miguel, Gonçalo Perestrelo
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9783030147297
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameStudies in Systems, Decision and Control
ISSN (Print)2198-4182
ISSN (Electronic)2198-4190


  • Nurses
  • Occupational stress
  • Psychological distress


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