Quantifying Occupational Stress in Intensive Care Unit Nurses: An Applied Naturalistic Study of Correlations Among Stress, Heart Rate, Electrodermal Activity, and Skin Temperature

Nima Ahmadi, Farzan Sasangohar, Tariq Nisar, Valerie Danesh, Ethan Larsen, Ineen Sultana, Rita Bosetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To identify physiological correlates to stress in intensive care unit nurses. Background: Most research on stress correlates are done in laboratory environments; naturalistic investigation of stress remains a general gap. Method: Electrodermal activity, heart rate, and skin temperatures were recorded continuously for 12-hr nursing shifts (23 participants) using a wrist-worn wearable technology (Empatica E4). Results: Positive correlations included stress and heart rate (ρ =.35, p <.001), stress and skin temperature (ρ =.49, p <.05), and heart rate and skin temperatures (ρ =.54, p =.0008). Discussion: The presence and direction of some correlations found in this study differ from those anticipated from prior literature, illustrating the importance of complementing laboratory research with naturalistic studies. Further work is warranted to recognize nursing activities associated with a high level of stress and the underlying reasons associated with changes in physiological responses. Application: Heart rate and skin temperature may be used for real-time detection of stress, but more work is needed to validate such surrogate measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Factors
Volume64
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Keywords

  • critical care
  • job stress
  • naturalistic study
  • nursing and nursing systems
  • physiological measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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