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Implementation Science

, 5:34

First Online: 27 April 2010Received: 19 August 2009Accepted: 27 April 2010DOI: 10.1186-1748-5908-5-34

Cite this article as: Schalk, D.M., Bijl, M.L., Halfens, R.J. et al. Implementation Sci 2010 5: 34. doi:10.1186-1748-5908-5-34


BackgroundNursing work environments NWEs in Canada and other Western countries have increasingly received attention following years of restructuring and reported high workloads, high absenteeism, and shortages of nursing staff. Despite numerous efforts to improve NWEs, little is known about the effectiveness of interventions to improve NWEs. The aim of this study was to review systematically the scientific literature on implemented interventions aimed at improving the NWE and their effectiveness.

MethodsAn online search of the databases CINAHL, Medline, Scopus, ABI, Academic Search Complete, HEALTHstar, ERIC, Psychinfo, and Embase, and a manual search of Emerald and Longwoods was conducted. Quasi- experimental studies with pre-post measures of interventions aimed at improving the NWE, study populations of nurses, and quantitative outcome measures of the nursing work environment were required for inclusion. Each study was assessed for methodological strength using a quality assessment and validity tool for intervention studies. A taxonomy of NWE characteristics was developed that would allow us to identify on which part of the NWE an intervention targeted for improvement, after which the effects of the interventions were examined.

ResultsOver 9,000 titles and abstracts were screened. Eleven controlled intervention studies met the inclusion criteria, of which eight used a quasi-experimental design and three an experimental design. In total, nine different interventions were reported in the included studies. The most effective interventions at improving the NWE were: primary nursing two studies, the educational toolbox one study, the individualized care and clinical supervision one study, and the violence prevention intervention one study.

ConclusionsLittle is known about the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving the NWE, and published studies on this topic show weaknesses in their design. To advance the field, we recommend that investigators use controlled studies with pre-post measures to evaluate interventions that are aimed at improving the NWE. Thereby, more evidence-based knowledge about the implementation of interventions will become available for healthcare leaders to use in rebuilding nursing work environments.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1748-5908-5-34 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Donna MJ Schalk, Marloes LP Bijl contributed equally to this work.

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Author: Donna MJ Schalk - Marloes LP Bijl - Ruud JG Halfens - Louk Hollands - Greta G Cummings


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