THE STRESS OF CARING: THE MANIFESTATION OF STRESS IN THE NURSE-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP
AbstractFollowing global trends in health reforms, South Africa has followed a primary health care approach since the eighties (Petersen & Swartz, 2002; Van der Walt, 1998). The implementation of this approach at first was regarded as selective and piecemeal (Van der Walt, 1998), but with the emergence of a democratically elected government in 1994 a series of health reforms focused on equalising the coverage of service (Van Wyk, 2005). The South African health system can thus best be described as one that has been characterised by time-consuming restructuring processes aimed at the implementation of a comprehensive primary health care service. Within this system all health-care professionals have been exposed to stressful working conditions. However, mental health professionals (psychologists and social workers) agree that the impact of these conditions on nurses is specifically important as they form “…the largest cadre of frontline health providers in South Africa” (Van der Walt & Swartz, 2002:1002).
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