Stress and the Effects of Hospital Restructuring in Nurses


  • Esther R. Greenglass
  • Ronald J. Burke


This study examines the extent of stress and burnout experienced by nurses during hospital restructuring. It includes both job-related outcomes such as job satisfaction and burnout, and psychosomatic outcomes such as depression. The study compares effects attributable to number of hospital restructuring initiatives with those attributable to specific work stressors such as workload, bumping (where one nurse replaces another due to greater seniority), and use of unlicensed personnel to do the work of nurses. It also examines the role of personal resources including self-efficacy and coping. Results show that, in hospitals undergoing restructuring, workload is the most significant and consistent predictor of distress in nurses, as manifested in lower job satisfaction, professional efficacy, and job security. Greater workload also contributed to depression, cynicism, and anxiety. The practice of bumping contributed to job insecurity, depression, and anxiety. The results point to specific deleterious effects of hospital restructuring. Implications of the findings are discussed. The extent to which workload issues are managed through appropriate practices can be expected to match the extent of nurses' experience of either job satisfaction or depression and anxiety. Such practices need to be part of an ongoing process of interaction between the hospital administration and nurses.