UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Identifying the most important workplace factors in predicting nurse mental health using machine learning techniques Havaei, Farinaz; Ji, Xuejun R.; MacPhee, Maura; Straight, Heather


Abstract Objectives Nurses are at a high risk of developing mental health problems due to exposure to work environment risk factors. Previous research in this area has only examined a few factors within nurses’ work environments, and those factors were not conceptualized with the goal of improving workplace mental health. The purpose of this study is to identify the most important work environment predictors of nurse mental health using a comprehensive and theoretically grounded measure based on the National Standard of Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Methods This is an exploratory cross-sectional survey study of nurses in British Columbia, Canada. For this study, responses from a convenience sample of 4029 actively working direct care nurses were analyzed using random forest regression methods. Key predictors include 13 work environment factors. Study outcomes include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), burnout and life satisfaction. Results Overall, healthier reports of work environment conditions were associated with better nurse mental health. More specifically balance, psychological protection and workload management were the most important predictors of depression, anxiety, PTSD and emotional exhaustion. While engagement, workload management, psychological protection and balance were the most important predictors of depersonalization, engagement was the most important predictor of personal accomplishment. Balance, psychological protection and engagement were the most important predictors of life satisfaction. Conclusions Routine assessment with standardized tools of nurses’ work environment conditions and mental health is an important, evidence-based organizational intervention. This study suggests nurses’ mental health is particularly influenced by worklife balance, psychological protection and workload management.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)