THEY dedicate their careers to helping others get better but according to a recent university study, many of Australia's nurses are failing their own health checks.
Northern NSW researchers Kay Ross and Dr Jennie Barr from Southern Cross University's School of Health and Human Scientists were keen to find out how the health of nurses was impacting their lives and patient care.
A national survey, funded by the Federal Government's disease prevention arm, attracted more than 6000 responses and found that only a small number of the nation's nurses believed they were healthy.
Stress was identified as the biggest contributor to obesity, hypertension, respiratory disease, musculoskeletal problems and diabetes.
The survey showed that many nurses had a chronic illness that resulted in them needing to take time off work in the previous 12 months.
Three percent of respondents had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
Bullying, job cuts and not being able to give patients the care they needed were also listed as health factors.
The report noted that very little research had been done to test the health of the 300,000 nurses working in Australia.
Several recommendations are made in the report which is titled Primary health care for nurses: Developing strategies for the Prevention of Chronic Illness in Nurses.
Ms Ross said nurses were part of an ageing workforce and chronic illness was a "major concern" for the future.
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