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Health status, preventive behaviour and risk factors among female nurses

Publication: Health Reports 2009:20(3)

Authors: Pamela A. Ratner and Richard G. Sawatzky

Data: 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.1

This study compares the health status, preventive behaviour and risk factors of female nurses with those of other employed postsecondary-educated women.

Health Characteristics

The two groups were equally likely to rate their physical and mental health as very good or excellent, but the nurses were more likely to report back problems or problems related to the back (24% versus 20%).

Disease prevention

Being a nurse was associated with engaging in preventive behaviour. A much higher percentage of nurses than other female postsecondary graduates had had flu shots (68% versus 39%). Similarly, the nurses were more likely to have ever had a pap smear (97% versus 91%).

Psychosocial risk factors

While the percentages reporting life stress were similar (about 31%), nurses were more likely to say that most days at work were “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful (56% versus 35%).

Behavioural risk factors

Nurses were less likely to report insufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables (40% versus 50%) or heavy alcohol use (7% versus 11%). About half the women in both groups were physically inactive (47%) and the prevalence of smoking was essentially the same (19%).

Table 2
Health status of nurses and referent group, female household population, Canada excluding territories, 2003