UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Impact of Heavy Perceived Nurse Workloads on Patient and Nurse Outcomes MacPhee, Maura; Dahinten, V. Susan; Havaei, Farinaz

Abstract

This study investigated the relationships between seven workload factors and patient and nurse outcomes. (1) Background: Health systems researchers are beginning to address nurses’ workload demands at different unit, job and task levels; and the types of administrative interventions needed for specific workload demands. (2) Methods: This was a cross-sectional correlational study of 472 acute care nurses from British Columbia, Canada. The workload factors included nurse reports of unit-level RN staffing levels and patient acuity and patient dependency; job-level nurse perceptions of heavy workloads, nursing tasks left undone and compromised standards; and task-level interruptions to work flow. Patient outcomes were nurse-reported frequencies of medication errors, patient falls and urinary tract infections; and nurse outcomes were emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction. (3) Results: Job-level perceptions of heavy workloads and task-level interruptions had significant direct effects on patient and nurse outcomes. Tasks left undone mediated the relationships between heavy workloads and nurse and patient outcomes; and between interruptions and nurse and patient outcomes. Compromised professional nursing standards mediated the relationships between heavy workloads and nurse outcomes; and between interruptions and nurse outcomes. (4) Conclusion: Administrators should work collaboratively with nurses to identify work environment strategies that ameliorate workload demands at different levels.

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CC BY 4.0

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