The relationships between job characteristics, professional practice environment and cardiovascular risk in female hospital nurses
Peacock, Joy M.
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An aging workforce and stressful work environments are major issues potentially impacting the health, and in particular the cardiovascular health of Canadian hospital nurses. No study, to date, has examined the independent and combined effects between the work environment and indicators of cardiovascular risk among female Canadian nurses. The primary goal of this study was to determine if selected work characteristics influences cardiovascular risk profiles. One hundred and forty four nurses from two hospitals participated in a cross-sectional study. Participants completed a questionnaire containing validated measures of job characteristics as measured by the Job Content Questionnaire and the professional practice work environment as measured by the Nursing Work Index (Revised). Indicators of cardiovascular risk were obtained by anthropometric measures, clinical exam and serum sampling. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome, as classified by the NCEP ATP III Panel, was 7.7 % (n = 11) with 31.9 % having waist circumferences > 88 cm; 22% having a systolic blood pressure ≥ 130 mmHG and 15.2% having a diastolic blood pressure ≥ 80 mmHG. There was no statistically significant association between traditional measures of job strain and cardiovascular risk. In stepwise backward regression analyses, higher age, lower perception of autonomy and higher family income accounted for 22% of the variance in waist circumference (p < .001). Higher age and higher physical job demands accounted for 17% of the variance in systolic blood pressure, and 16% of the variance in diastolic blood pressure. Similar to other female studies, there was no significant relationship between psychosocial job strain characteristics, as measured with traditional job strain measurements, and cardiovascular risk. The findings from this study suggest that female nurses are at risk for cardiovascular disease, and that both physical and organizational characteristics of the work environment influence these associations. One may argue that traditional job strain is not unexpected in nursing practice is perhaps less stressful than dealing with high patient acuity, moral distress and hierarchical healthcare organizations.