Supportive work environments help nurses do their job to the fullest

A Penn LDI study shows that adequate resources and staffing helps nurses to avoid delayed or missed care opportunities for their patients.

As the current COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates, nurses have a critical role in the coordination, delivery, and evaluation of care. In fact, prior to the pandemic, 2020 was designated as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in recognition of nurses’ essential contributions to health care. Studies show, however, that nursing care is often “missed,” meaning that it is delayed, partially completed, or not completed at all. Missed care is problematic, as it is associated with worse patient care experiences and health outcomes as well as nurse ethical distress and burnout.

A nurse holding paperwork and wearing a stethoscope runs through a hallway past glass windows

In a recent study,  Eileen Lake, Douglas Sloane, and Kathryn A. Riman investigated how changes in the hospital work environment and nurse staffing over time affect missed nursing care.

A supportive work environment for nurses provides capable nurse leaders, encourages nurse participation in hospital governance and decision-making, assures adequate resources and staffing, and fosters collaboration between doctors and nurses. Supportive work environments are associated with better patient health outcomes and nurse job outcomes. A Penn study by LDI Fellows at the Nursing School’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research shows that adequate resources ensure that nursing care is missed less frequently in hospitals. This evidence, however, has been limited to cross-sectional studies that do not establish a causal link between organizational change and missed care.

This story is by Kathryn A. Riman. Read more at Penn LDI.