Category Archives: Patient satisfaction/customer service
Twelve-hour nursing shifts cause higher levels of burnout and negatively affect patient care, according to a study published this month in Health Affairs.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that more than 80 percent of nurses working shifts of eight or more hours were satisfied with the scheduling practices at their hospitals, but “the percentages of nurses reporting burnout and an intention to leave the job increased incrementally as shift length increased.” Nurses who worked shifts longer than 8-9 hours were up to 2.5 times more likely to have burnout and job dissatisfaction.
Long nursing shifts also have consequences for patients. In hospitals with high proportions of nurses working long shifts, patients perceived worse care, both overall and in nursing-specific factors. Patients in these hospitals reported that nurses didn’t communicate well or respond quickly, and said their pain was not well controlled. For many patient outcomes, dissatisfaction increased as the proportion of nurses working longer shifts increased, the study says.
The researchers hypothesize that nurses may underestimate the impact of working long shifts because long shifts mean working fewer days a week, which may be appealing.
Accrediting bodies should consider policies for nurses—like those already in place for medical residents—limiting the number of hours they can work a week, the research team suggests, and boards of nursing and nursing management should monitor nurses’ hours and overtime, and promote a workplace culture that facilitates manageable work hours.
What do you think? Are long shifts good for nurses or patients? Is there a way to help nurses keep flexible schedules without compromising their job satisfaction and patient care? Register below to leave a comment.
Dominick L. Frosch, PhD, is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program, and the recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. He is an associate investigator at the Department of Health Services Research at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Frosch recently led a study, published in Health Affairs, which examined the reasons patients are reluctant to engage in shared decision making. This post is part of a series on the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, running in conjunction with the program’s tenth anniversary. The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership and policy change to address the multiple determinants of population health.
Human Capital Blog: Why did you decide to look at this issue?
Dominick Frosch: The role of patients is really changing and, especially over the last decade, we’ve seen a growing emphasis on patient participation in clinical decision making. It’s especially prominent in what we call preference-sensitive care, where patients have multiple potential options for treatment, but the evidence doesn’t identify a clear, superior choice. Making a decision in these cases involves considering the trade-offs between benefits and risks. There’s growing emphasis that patients should have a role to play in these preference-sensitive situations because they have to live with the outcomes of the care they receive.
Until now, we have implicitly assumed that providing patients with information is sufficient to facilitate shared decision making. In reality we know quite little about how patients perceive the communication tasks that are necessary for shared decision making to happen in a clinical consultation, and our objective with this study was to develop a better understanding of that.
Imagine this: you’ve had an accident and totaled your relatively inexpensive, extremely reliable car. The insurance company offers to replace it with a luxury car, at no extra cost. You know the luxury car may not last as long or work as well, but it’s the newest thing on the market. Do you take it?
Consumers sometimes think of their health care and health insurance in this way, said RWJF Clinical Scholar alumnus David Penson, M.D., M.P.H. (1997-1999), a professor of urologic surgery and medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He recently spoke with Larry Van Horn, of Forbes’ Second Opinion blog, about the “business side of patient care.”