Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Health and well-being of nurses

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Many nurses regularly work overtime and some have more than one job. This might suggest that they are more likely than the employed population as a whole to experience health problems.

However, the 2005 National Survey of the Work and Health of Nurses showed little correlation between poor health and factors such as shift work and long hours of work.

In general, nurses’ health problems are more strongly associated with psychosocial factors, including stress at work, low autonomy and lack of respect. In addition, among the employed population nurses are more likely than other workers to experience a high level of job strain.

Job strain is strongly related to fair or poor physical and mental health and to lengthy or frequent absences from work for health-related reasons. For example, 17% of nurses who experienced high job strain reported 20 or more sick days in the year prior to the 2005 survey, compared with 12% of nurses who perceived less job strain.

Fifty-seven percent of nurses felt there had been no change in the quality of care in their workplace, but more nurses reported a deterioration in care than reported an improvement. Changes in staffing levels are a major factor in the quality of care question—27% of nurses who reported deterioration in patient care in 2005 mentioned a shortage of staff.

Of the 314,900 Canadians employed in 2005 as regulated nurses, 95% were women. The regulated nurses surveyed included registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and registered psychiatric nurses.