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The Cost of Caring: ICU workload stressors and the Saudi Arabian nurse

Krishnavellie Chetty

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to share insights, research findings and discuss key issues related to workload factors and their influence on the wellbeing of ICU nurses working in a Saudi Arabian hospital. Design/methodology/approach: The authors used a mixed method approach and using a convergent parallel mixed methods design which included separate analysis of the quantitative and the qualitative data, which were collected separately. Within this mixed methods design, the two different types of the data were synthesized for a deeper understanding of the current topic.his paper will focus on the qualitative dataset of the study. A purposive, non-probability sampling strategy was used to recruit nurses to participate in the semi-structured interviews about their workplace experiences.All consenting registered nurses, with a current and valid Saudi Council Registration, who were able to speak English, were included in the study. Tesch’s method of data analysis was used to code and categorize data to construct a shared understanding reflective of the experiences of participants and the researcher as both constructing the meanings given.

Findings: The findings from the study were aligned to the JDR Model and provided evidence that ICU nurses experienced various workload factors influencing their wellbeing and productivity. These high job demands lead to strain and health impairment, associated with decreased job satisfaction amongst staff working in the ICUs of Saudi Arabian hospitals. The researcher was therefore able to propose and develop guidelines for the implementation of a comprehensive managerial framework that explicated workload factors and its influence on well-being among the ICU nurses.

Research limitations/implications: The limitation that was faced by the researcher was the timeline for conducting the current research, which was governed by the University’s policies and protocol. The recruitment of participants, included ICU nurses within a group of critical care units of one hospital and excluded nurse managers. This could potentially limit the generalizability of the findings to managers at other clinical areas in the hospital regarding their perceptions of the workload and well-being among nurses in general. Despite some of these limitations, the following conclusions could be drawn and recommendations made based on these conclusions.

Practical implications: Healthcare organisation across the globe is challenged to achieve nurse workforce stability, safety, and well-being. It was evident that the participants experienced many workload challenges that influenced their wellbeing within the various ICUs. This study sets out the key messages for health care managers to empower and to meet the needs of ICU nurse related to health and well-being. The findings formed the foundation for management contribution to provide improved and seamless support to the health and well-being of ICU nurses. This approach is a guide to support the nurses to work collaboratively with all key professionals and stakeholders to deliver improved quality of life and health outcomes for both the nurses and the patients under their care.

Originality/value: This paper explores the various dimensions of workload factors as experienced by Saudi Arabian ICU nurses and its influence on their wellbeing. The authors were able to explore these dimensions from a national and international perspective within a from diverse and multicultural population base.