Stress amongst nurses working in a healthcare telephone-advice service: relationship with job satisfaction, intention to leave, sickness absence, and performance

Barbara Farquharson, Julia Louise Allan, Derek Johnston, Marie Johnston, Carolyn Choudhary, Martyn Jones

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. This paper is a report of a study, which assessed levels of stress amongst nurses working in a healthcare telephone-advice service. We explored whether stress related to performance, sickness absence, and intention to leave. Background. Nurses report high levels of stress, as do call-centre workers. The emergence of telephone health advice services means many nurses now work in call-centres, doing work that differs markedly from traditional nursing roles. Stress associated with these roles could have implications for nurses, patients, and service provision. Design. This paper reports cross-sectional survey results. The design of the overall study included longitudinal elements. Method. A comprehensive study of stress was conducted amongst nurses working for a telephone-advice service in Scotland (2008-2010). All nurse-advisors were approached by letter and invited to participate. A total of 152 participants (33%) completed a questionnaire including General Health Questionnaire-12, Work Family Conflict Questionnaire, Job Satisfaction Scale and a measure of intention to leave the telephone-advice service and rated the perceived stress of 2 working shifts. Nurses' employers provided data on sickness absence and performance. Results. Overall levels of psychological distress were similar to those found amongst Scottish women generally. In multiple regression, work-family conflict was identified as a significant predictor of job satisfaction and intention to leave, and significantly related to sickness absence. There were significant correlations between General Health Questionnaire scores and perceived stress of shifts and some performance measures. Conclusions. Work-family conflict is a significant predictor of job satisfaction, intention to leave, and sickness absence amongst telephone helpline nurses. Minimizing the impact of nurses' work on their home lives might reduce turnover and sickness absence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1624-1635
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number7
Early online date24 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012



  • job satisfaction
  • nurses
  • stress
  • telephone triage
  • work-family conflict

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