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How does the physical environment affect nurse turnover?

The role of physical work conditions in influencing nursing turnover was studied on a leukemia unit at one urban hospital in the U.S.  The findings were that a noisy workplace was associated with intention to leave.  Another important factor associated with intention to leave was how well or poorly the hospital physical environment facilitated nursing tasks.  However, nurses’ perceptions of safety hazards or comfortable temperature were not associated with turnover.  The authors note that cancer units are often kept colder than other parts of a hospital to inhibit growth of bacteria and viruses among immunosuppressed patients — and nurses know that below-normal temperature are for the good of patients, so they may be considered “part of the job.”

A conclusion from this study is that hospitals looking to improve their nurse retention might be well served by looking at physical environment improvements that help nurses do their jobs better.

Source:  Vardaman, J.M., Cornell, P.T., and others.  Part of the job: the role of physical work conditions in the nurse turnover process.  Health Care Management Review;39(2):164-173, Apr.-June 2014.  Click here for access to the publisher’s website:  http://journals.lww.com/hcmrjournal/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2014&issue=04000&article=00009&type=abstract

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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