The Effects Of A Guided Relaxation Exercise On Perceived Stress and Physiological Stress Indicators In Medical-Surgical Nurses




Batcheller, Caitlin Marie

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Nursing is known to be a high-stress profession, and as such, nurses are susceptible to employee absenteeism, reduced job satisfaction, and job burnout. Furthermore, the ability for such workers to think clearly and be able to demonstrate empathy is a key factor in delivering quality patient care. A number of stress management programs, such as hypnosis, meditation, and mindfulness-based stress reduction, have been introduced into workplace settings with the intent to reduce the effects of stress on employees. This study implemented a short relaxation exercise to determine whether a brief intervention, compared to a long intervention, would affect perceived stress and physiological stress indicators in nurses. A total of 10 nurses were recruited, 9 of which were female and 1 of which was male. Subjects participated in a 2- week study consisting of 4 total sessions. The first week involved collecting baseline data, such as heart rate and blood pressure, in addition to subjects filling out surveys that measured stress levels. The second week consisted of the behavioral intervention and involved listening to two short relaxation scripts. Physiological and self-report measures were collected pre- and post-intervention. Results indicated a significant decline in systolic blood pressure from pre-intervention to post-intervention. Furthermore, results revealed a decrease in diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, perceived stress, and negative affect score. There was also an increase in positive affect score from pre-intervention to post-intervention. Various factors, such as limited sample size and varied nurse workload, may account for the lack of significant findings. These results support previous research findings and support the hypothesis that a stress management intervention helps reduce physiological stress factors as well as reduce perceived stress. High-stress occupations, such as nursing, should implement stress management programs.



psychology, stress, nurses, intervention, relaxation, occupational, affect, Honors College


Batcheller, C. M. (2011). The effects of a guided relaxation exercise on perceived stress and physiological stress indicators in medical-surgical nurses (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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