Inventory of Stressful Events


This measure, (Inventory of Stressful Events) developed and validated by Motowidlo, Packard, and Manning (1986), uses 45 items to measure the frequency of stressful occur­rences in a job. The instrument was originally developed for nurses and the items were derived from interviews in a variety of clinical areas in several hospitals. Thus, they contain wording specific to the hospital context. Respondents are asked to indicate how often stressful things happen in per­ forming a job.


Coefficient alpha value was .88 (Fox & Dwyer, 1995; Fox, Dwyer, & Ganster, 1993).


The frequency of stressful events was positively correlated with psychologi­ cal distress, quantitative workload, qualitative workload, self-monitoring, and somatic complaints. The frequency of stressful events correlated nega­ tively with job satisfaction,job performance, and job control (Fox & Dwyer, 1995; Fox et al., 1993).


Motowidlo, S. J., Packard, J. S., & Manning, M. R. (1986). Occupational stress: Its causes and consequences for job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71, 618-629. Items were taken from the appendix, p. 629. Copyright © 1986 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted with permission.


Respondents are asked, “How often does this generally happen to you?” Responses are obtained on a 4-point Likert-type scale where 1 = never and 4 = fairly often. Responses can also be obtained for the same 45 items asking.

the question “How stressful is or would this be for you?” and obtaining responses from 1 = not at all stressful to 5 = extremely stressful.

How often do these things generally happen to you in your job?

  1. You fall behind in your regular duties because you have extra work that is not part of your daily routine
  2. You are so busy you have to pass up a chance to talk to a patient and give him or her some emotional support
  3. Another nurse calls you away from important work for a trivial matter
  4. A patient complains to you about the food or other things not under your control
  5. Your head nurse or supervisor disagrees with your judgment about a patient’s treatment or condition
  6. A doctor is verbally abusive toward you
  7. You perform work that should have been done by your head nurse
  8. Your regular head nurse is temporarily absent from the unit when you need help
  9. A doctor becomes angry at you for something that is not your fault
  10. Your work is interrupted by delays caused by other units or departments
  11. You have so much to do that you have to leave some things undone
  12. You are unable to contact a doctor in an emergency
  13. You have to make an extra trip for special supplies because a doctor changed his or her mind about a medical procedure
  14. A doctor wastes your time by having you perform non-nursing tasks
  15. A doctor becomes upset with you for taking too long to do something
  16. Your unit is short-staffed because someone called in sick
  17. A doctor does not accept your suggestions regarding a patient’s condition or treatment
  18. Your head nurse or supervisor assigns a lighter workload to a co-worker
  19. A doctor contradicts hospital rules or standard nursing procedures which you were following with a patient
  20. A patient under your care refuses to accept medication or other treatment
  21. You have to explain the behavior of a doctor to a patient or the patient’s family
  22. A patient criticizes your nursing care
  23. You have to do extra work because another unit or department did not do their own work properly
  24. A patient becomes verbally abusive with you
  25. Another nurse is angry or rude with you
  26. You disagree with the patient care ordered by a doctor
  27. You see a doctor act rudely or inconsiderately toward a patient
  28. You see another nurse relaxing and taking it easy while you are very busy
  29. A patient under your care refuses to eat a meal
  30. Another nurse’s negligence makes it difficult for you to perform your own work properly
  31. Visitors are verbally abusive or rude toward a patient under your care
  32. Your head nurse or supervisor gives you incorrect information pertaining to patient care
  33. Another nurse will not fill in for you so you can take a day off
  34. Your head nurse or supervisor refuses your request for time off or a change in your schedule
  35. A patient under your care refuses to stay in bed
  36. A patient under your care purposely removes his or her dressings
  37. You have so much to do that you have to work overtime
  38. You need medical equipment or supplies that are not available in your unit
  39. A doctor publicly criticizes your nursing care
  40. A patient tries to harm himself or herself while under your care
  41. You hear another nurse complaining about the workload
  42. Another nurse criticizes your nursing care
  43. You have to use a piece of equipment or perform a nursing procedure that is new to you
  44. A patient’s family or visitors criticize your nursing care
  45. A patient reports you to a doctor or a nursing supervisor