Work-related stressors are present in almost every profession, but many believe nurses caring for critically ill patients experience additional and unique stresses. Results of previous studies have demonstrated the potential benefits of various interventions to reduce stress among intensive care nurses. However, the practicality of nurses taking time out from a busy unit to meet their own needs remains in question.


To assess intensive care nurses’ perceptions of the usability of a lounge designed to support them in refreshing and renewing themselves after stressful clinical situations.


This study used a descriptive, cross-sectional design and survey methodology with a convenience sample of registered nurses from a medical intensive care unit.


Of 250 registered nurses eligible for participation, 54 (21.6%) completed surveys, and of those, 31 (57%) reported having used the lounge within the past month. Nurses reported having coverage provided by colleagues, visiting during their lunch break, and having low unit acuity were facilitators of lounge use. Barriers included high unit acuity, high unit census, and high patient care demands with no one available to cover patient assignments.


The variables that lead to stress and burnout among medical intensive care unit nurses also prevent nurses from using a “relaxation room.” A more effective approach may be organizational change that supports reduction of workload through increased staffing, prearranged breaks during shifts, and increased recovery time between shifts by limiting work to no more than 40 hours per week.

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