Dr Jennieffer Barr, left, and Ms Kay Ross
Dr Jennieffer Barr, left, and Ms Kay Ross

Survey to look at nurse health

A NEW survey by Southern Cross University aims to get an accurate picture of the health and wellbeing of Australia's 270,000 enrolled and registered nurses.

Ms Kay Ross and Dr Jennieffer Barr, of the School of Health and Human Sciences, are the principle researchers in the project and said they hope to have 70,000 nurses complete the survey. The research is being funded by the Department of Health and Ageing.

"For such a large workforce it seems odd that the health and wellbeing of nurses has often been overlooked as an area of study," Ms Ross said.

"It is important to find out how nurses provide health promotion and education and how their own health and wellbeing allows them to do that."

Nurse health is a hot topic within industry circles as the workforce ages.

According to Census data from 2005, 35% of registered nurses were aged over 50, while the average age of a registered nurse is now 45.

Chronic illness was a major concern for the workforce, according to Dr Barr, a nurse for more than 30 years.

"Nurses, like the Australian population are ageing and with that comes chronic illness. The big focus today is to think proactive and reduce the risk of developing such illness. This is the first study that is looking at risks that Australian nurses may have for developing illness," she said.

With an ageing workforce we are pleased that the health and wellbeing of nurses is now a major focus for research.

Ms Ross is also a nurse with more than 30 years' experience.

"Nursing is a very challenging profession," she said.

"You are dealing with people at their most vulnerable and you need to be at your best every day that you go into work even if you don't feel 100 per cent. Often a nurse's own health and wellbeing is put on the backburner.

"Many would like to be healthier, or do more exercise, or eat healthier, but find the rigours of the job can restrict them in doing this. Many nurses have big patient loads, they stress over job security and they suffer all the stress and problems that come from working shift work."

Registered and enrolled nurses are encouraged to participate in the survey that will take approximately 15 minutes. The survey is completely anonymous and can be found at www.mynursesurvey.com

The researchers will collect data over a six month period with the aim of releasing their findings towards the end of next year.



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