Stress is a common phenomenon in the intensive care unit for both patients and nurses. Critical care nurses may experience many forms of stress, including physical, psychological, and moral stress or distress. The physiological stress response traditionally associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis has been expanded to include a new model, called tend and befriend, that has been linked to females of different species, including humans. Studies have shown that stress also affects immune function. Although commonly associated with adverse outcomes, stress can lead to personal growth. The tend and befriend strategy is an intervention that was developed to help nurses increase their ability to grow from stressful situations, especially those related to moral distress.

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