Stressful times call for team-based measures: psychiatric nursing in the UK National Health Service

Joanne Richardson

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: Team-based working is now an inherent part of effective health care delivery. Previous research has identified that team working is associated with positive mental health and well-being outcomes for individuals operating in an effective team environment. This is a particularly important topic in the health services context, although little empirical attention has been paid to mental-health services. Psychiatric nurses work on a day-to-day basis with a particularly stressful and demanding client group in an environment which is characterised by high demands, uncertainty, and limited resources. This paper specifically focuses on psychiatric nurses working in National Health Service (NHS) and casts some light on the ways in which effective team-based working can help to alleviate a number of occupational stressors and strains.

Method: A questionnaire method (2005 NHS Staff Survey) was employed to collect data from 6655 psychiatric nurses from 64 different NHS Trusts.
The hypotheses were concerned with four overall measures from the survey; effective team working, occupational stress, work pressure and social support. Hypothesis 1 stated that effective team working will have a significant negative relationship with occupational stress and work pressure. Further, Hypothesis 2 stated that social support from supervisors and co-workers will moderate this relationship.
Findings: Data was treated with a series of regression analyses. For Hypothesis 1, working in a real team did have main effects on work pressure and accounted for 1.6 per cent of the variance. Using the Nagelkerke R square value, working in a real team also had main effects on occupational stress an accounted for approximately 2.8 per cent of the variance. Further, the Exp (B) value of 0.662 suggests that the odds of suffering from occupational stress are cut by 33.8 per cent when a psychiatric nurse works in a real team. Results failed to provide support for Hypothesis 2.
The analysis then went on to adopt a unique approach for assessing the extent of real team-based working, distinguishing between real teams, and a number of pseudo team typologies, as well as the absence of teamwork all together. As was hypothesised, results demonstrated that psychiatric nurses working in real teams (ones with clear objectives, where-by team members work closely with one another to achieve team objectives and meet regularly to discuss team effectiveness and how it can be improved) experienced the lowest levels of stress and work pressure of the sample. However, contrary to prediction, results indicated that psychiatric nurses working in any type of pseudo team actually experienced significantly higher levels of stress and work pressure than those who did not report as working in a team at all.
Discussion: These findings have serious implications for NHS Mental Health Trusts, which may not be implementing, structuring and managing their nursing teams adequately. Indeed, results suggest that poorly-structured team work may actually facilitate stress and pressure in the workplace. Conversely, well-structured real teams serve to reduce stress and work pressure, which in turn not only enhances the working lives and well-being of psychiatric nurses, but also greatly improves the service that the NHS provides to its users.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event2009 postgraduate occupational psychology conference - Blackpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jan 200914 Jan 2009


Conference2009 postgraduate occupational psychology conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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