An Assessment of Stress in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU): An Exploratory Study Utilising Self-Assessment, Physiological, and Salivary Cortisol Measures

Ivana Živoder, Jurica Veronek, Melita Sajko, Natalija Uršulin-Trstenjak, Rosana Ribić, Mihaela Kranjčević-Ščurić, Mara Županić


The study investigates exposure to stress by respondents
working in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and differences in
using three instruments to measure stress. The survey was
conducted from September to October 2018 in Dubrava
Clinical Hospital in the ICU unit, with forty-one (41)
healthcare professionals. Three forms of testing were set up:
self-evaluation of stress, measurements of physiological
indicators, and cortisol levels. The results show a statistically
significant difference in mean cortisol levels, with the first
sample much higher than other samples. There were
significant interactions between skin conduction (SC) and
stress levels, where all participants exhibited increases in SC.
Heart rate variability (HRV) shows a slight correlation with
stress levels in the group possessing substantially more stress
experience. Although some differences were observed, all
stress elements for professionals working in ICUs indicates
that they cope well with stressful situations.


stress; ICU; physiology; cortisol level; healthcare professionals

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Copyright (c) 2023 Ivana Zivoder, Jurica Veronek, Melita Sajko, Natalija Ursulin -Trstenjak, Rosana Ribić, Mihaela Kranjcevic-Scuric, Mara Zupanic

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Print ISSN 1330-0288 | Online ISSN 1848-6096