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Investigating professional quality of life in nursing staff working in Adolescent Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs)

Celeste Foster (School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences, University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 6 December 2018

Issue publication date: 3 January 2019




The purpose of this paper is to investigate professional quality of life of mental health nursing staff working within an adolescent psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) setting. Professional quality of life is important, as there is a correlation between staff wellbeing and the quality of healthcare services delivered, particularly within mental health settings. Mental health nursing staff in adolescent PICU services deal with a wide range of physically and emotionally demanding challenges when providing care, yet the potential impact of this demanding work upon staff in this context has not been explored.


The study used a longitudinal non-experimental design with a purposive sample. Quantitative data were collected from a total of 17 registered mental health nurses and healthcare assistants (HCAs) working in an adolescent PICU in the North of England. Repeated measures were administered at three consecutive intervals, three months apart, using a validated self-report measure, the Professional Quality of Life Scale V (ProQOL V, Stamm, 2010). Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistical analysis using benchmark data from the ProQOL V instrument for comparison.


Analysis of results compared to ProQOL V benchmark data showed significantly higher than expected levels of compassion satisfaction, and lower than expected levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress for adolescent PICU nursing staff within the study. There were no significant differences between qualified nurses and HCAs. Potential explanations and practice implications of these findings are discussed.


This is the first published study to investigate professional quality of life within the mental health nursing population working in adolescent PICU, providing empirical insights into a previously unexplored mental health context.



Declaration of interests: unpaid honorary contract (as above) within the service in which the research was carried out. This work was supported by the University of Salford (Vice Chancellor Early Career Research Scholarship Fund). The funding source had no involvement in the study design or implementation.


Foster, C. (2019), "Investigating professional quality of life in nursing staff working in Adolescent Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs)", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 59-71.



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