Background: Many nurses have reported experiencing high levels of occupational stress in their work environment. Stress, as an outcome of stressful workplaces and tasks, affects nursing behavior in hospital wards. The objectives of this research were to determine the prevalence of occupational stress and mental health problems in nurses in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Shahid Mohammadi Hospital in Bandar Abbas in 2013 and to determine the relationship between occupational stress and mental health.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2013 on all of the nurses working in ICU at Shahid Mohammadi Hospital located in Bandar Abbas, Iran. Seventy-two nurses were selected as the population for this study, and all of them were female. Two questionnaires were used in this study, i.e., General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28) for assessing mental health and an occupational stress test for assessing job stress. Furthermore, the relationship between occupational stress and mental health was examined. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), independent samples t-test, and Pearson's product-moment correlation test were used to analyze the data.

Results: High and moderate levels of occupational stress were experienced by 83.9% and 10.7% of ICU nurses, respectively. The prevalence of mental disorders, somatic symptoms, anxiety, social dysfunction, and depression were 58.9, 60.7, 62.5, 71.4, and 10.7%, respectively. The findings of the independent samples t-test showed that somatic symptoms had significant relationships with age and working experience (p = 0.01). According to the independent samples t-test, there were no significant differences between somatic symptoms and working different shifts (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: There was a high prevalence of occupational stress among ICU nurses. There was a significant relationship between occupational stress and mental health. Future interventions are needed to codify a comprehensive health program in this field to reduce occupational stress and enhance nurses’ levels of mental health.

Keywords: occupational stress, mental disorders, ICU nurses
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