Association of changes in nursing work environment, non-professional tasks, and nursing care left undone with nurse job outcomes and quality of care: A panel study

Xu Liu, Jiali Liu, Ke Liu, Judith Gedney Baggs, Jun Wang, Jing Zheng, Yan Wu, Mengqi Li, Liming You

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Background: Strengthening quality of care without compromising nurse job outcomes by building a safer health care system is a common concern worldwide including in China. Most of the current evidence comes from cross-sectional studies conducted in western countries, which limits inferences of causality and generalization. Objective: The objectives of this longitudinal study were to compare changes in quality of care, nurse job outcomes, nursing work environment, non-professional tasks, and nursing care left undone in acute hospitals in China between 2014 and 2018. Secondly, we wanted to determine the association of changes in nursing work environment, non-professional tasks, and nursing care left undone with nurse job outcomes and quality of care. Design, settings, and participants: A prospective two-stage panel study conducted in 108 adult medical and surgical units from 23 hospitals in Guangdong province, China in 2014 and repeated in 2018. Methods: Work environment was measured by the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index. Non-professional tasks were measured with a seven-item scale surveying the performance of and time spent on non-professional tasks. Nursing care left undone was measured by 12 items addressing necessary nursing activities. Nurse job outcomes included burnout, dissatisfaction, and retention. Quality of care was measured by four items indicating overall quality of care as assessed by nurses (three items) and patients (one item). Generalized estimating equations with linear regression were employed to analyze data. Results: In 2018, compared with 2014, the nursing work environment had improved, and non-professional workloads had decreased minimally. The average number of the 12 nursing care tasks left undone had increased to 6.5 from 5.6 in 2014. Fewer nurses reported job dissatisfaction or intention to leave. Quality of care was improved slightly as assessed by nurses and patients. As for the changes of hospital organizational factors on quality of care, a better nursing work environment was related to better nurse job outcomes and quality of care. More non-professional tasks were related to higher levels of nurse job burnout. Less nursing care left undone was associated with better nurse-assessed quality of care. Units with more nurses experiencing job burnout and dissatisfaction were likely to have poorer nurse-assessed quality of care. Conclusions: Improving nursing work environment and supporting nurses to engage in professional and direct patient care as opposed to non-professional work may be beneficial to nurse job outcomes and promote quality of care.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number103860
    JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
    Volume115
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 2021

    Keywords

    • Burnout, professional
    • China
    • Job satisfaction
    • Organization and administration
    • Personnel management
    • Quality of health care
    • Workload

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Nursing(all)

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