Recent Research About Nursing, November 2013

Nov 12, 2013, 9:00 AM

This is part of the November 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

Creating Healthy Workspaces for Older Nurses

The nursing workforce is aging, in part because the nation's economic difficulties have prompted some nurses to delay retirement. A new literature review by Jaynelle Stichler, DNSc, NEA-BC, FACHE, of the San Diego State University School of Nursing, examines ways hospital work environments might be fine-tuned to help older nurses navigate the health challenges associated with their physically demanding work. The article was published online on October 17 by the Journal of Nursing Management.

Noting that Centers for Disease Control & Prevention data indicate that older workers' on-the-job injuries tend to be more severe than those suffered by younger workers, Stichler offers recommendations culled from 25 separate studies conducted since 2002. They include:

  • Ergonomic seating and countertops with the correct height for charting tables, and adequate space for keyboards, in order to prevent strains caused by working in improper body positions;
  • Adequate lighting and non-slip floor surfaces to reduce the risk of falling;
  • Decentralized linen, equipment, and supply storage in or near patient rooms, and decentralized nursing stations, in order to diminish walking distances;
  • Electrical and medical gas outlets placed on either side of the patients' beds and at an easily accessible height, rather than behind or above the head of the bed, so that nurses won't have to strain to plug in equipment;
  • Enhanced task lighting options over beds or on swing arms to ease eye strain and help nurses with visual acuity problems; and
  • Barrier-free patient bathroom and shower designs, with floor drains and shower curtains, so nurses needn't use towels to mop up water.

Stichler concludes with a call for more research on the topic. “Older nurses bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the workplace,” she writes, “but they are also confronted with the cognitive and physical demands of providing patient care. Although the literature is replete with evidence regarding the factors needed to recruit and retain older nurses with organizational solutions, there is little evidence on the physical design factors that could make nursing work easier for older nurses. Simple attention to detail in combination with knowledge of the physical and cognitive challenges of the aging nurse could facilitate design decisions that would create safe, healthy work environments for all nurses.”

Read an abstract of Stichler's article.

Calls and Texts from Nurses Improve Medication Adherence Among Psychiatric Patients

Ensuring that patients take medications as prescribed is a common problem for practitioners. It’s a particularly important one where mental health patients are concerned, because of high rates of noncompliance and the severe consequences that can result. A new study by a psychiatric mental health clinical nurse specialist finds that psychiatric patients who are regularly contacted by advanced practiced registered nurses (APRNs) are more likely to take their prescribed medications than those who are not.

Valerie Markley, MSN, PMHCNS-BC, an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing, presented her findings at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Annual Conference in early October. She studied two small groups of patients, all being treated for such serious mental illnesses as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The "intervention group" received regular phone calls and text messages from APRNs, and the other group did not. Communication with APRNs included discussions of whether patients were taking medication, and questions and answers about adverse effects and how the medications were working. They also proved to be an opportunity to convey empathy and support, Markley said.

The intervention patients were found to be more likely to take their medications as prescribed, and also more likely to attend their psychiatric appointments. “The nurse-client relationship is really important,” Markley said. “If a client feels you care about them, they’re more likely to follow up with treatment.”

Read a Medscape article on Markley’s presentation.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.