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Positive Work Environments Boosts Nurse and Patient Satisfaction

A poor work environment for nurses could increase the likelihood of adverse outcomes for patients.

Nurses play a crucial role in creating a safe and healthy patient environment. They’re responsible for administering medication, coordinating care, monitoring a patient’s condition, and countless other tasks. Also, nurses are often the last line of defense in catching mistakes and medication errors.

Providing nurses with the necessary support to do their jobs well is so vital that even patients can feel when it’s lacking, according to a new study. Published in Medical Care, it found that a nurse’s work environment can affect a patient’s satisfaction, the quality of care, and mortality rates.

What Did The Study Find?

In a meta-analysis of 16 years of studies, Eileen Lake of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and colleagues looked at data from 2,677 hospitals, 165,024 nurses, and more than 1.3 million patients from facilities worldwide. The researchers found that better work environments were associated with a lower likelihood of adverse patient outcomes and poor safety or quality ratings. Patient and nurse satisfaction was also higher with better work environments.

For example, nurses in better work environments were 28 to 32% less likely to report job dissatisfaction, burnout, or a desire to quit. They also had between 23% and 51% lower odds of rating the safety or quality of their unit as fair or poor. And they are more likely to feel confident that patients can manage their care after discharge. For patients, a better work environment for their nurse increased their likelihood of feeling satisfied with their care by 16%. They were also 8% less likely to experience an adverse event, including death, during the study period.

What Is A Better Work Environment?

The study used the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index, the most common way to measure the nursing practice environment. It also employed the six standards from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses — collaboration, skilled communication, effective decision-making, proper staffing, recognition, and leadership. 

“The evidence supports the unique status of the work environment as a foundation for both patient and provider wellbeing,” the authors wrote in a statement. “Accordingly, the work environment offers a powerful target, and improvement efforts warrant the resources and attention of healthcare administrators.”

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