Physical work environment in hospitals affects nurses' job satisfaction

July 23, 2014, New York University

Study finds architecture, interior design, and other physical aspects of their work environments can enhance early-career nurses' job satisfaction.

Job satisfaction is an important predictor of ' (RNs) job turnover, patient satisfaction, and nurse-sensitive patient outcomes (including pressure ulcers and falls), which can result in higher health care costs and penalties for hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. Numerous studies have been conducted to assess nurses' job satisfaction, asking about nurse-physician relationships, opportunities for promotion, autonomy, and similar issues, but very few have addressed the impact of the physical work environment on RNs' job satisfaction.

Now, a new study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's RN Work Project finds that a physical work environment that facilitates RNs' efficiency, teamwork, and interprofessional communication is related to higher job satisfaction. Maja Djukic, PhD, RN, assistant professor at the College of Nursing, New York University, led the research team.

The study, in the current issue of Research in Nursing & Health, revealed that while physical environment had no direct influence on job satisfaction, it did have a significant indirect influence because the environment affected whether nurses could complete tasks without interruptions, communicate easily with other nurses and physicians, and/or do their jobs efficiently.

The research team conducted a nationwide survey of RNs to examine the relationship between RNs' physical work environment and job satisfaction. They found that RNs who gave their physical work environments higher ratings were also more likely to report better workgroup cohesion, nurse-physician relations, workload, and other factors associated with job satisfaction.

The team was also led by Christine Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the College of Nursing, New York University, and Carol Brewer, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the School of Nursing, University at Buffalo. It included Farida Fatehi, BDS, MS, who was a research analyst at the College of Dentistry, New York University, at the time the study was conducted; and William Greene, PhD, Robert Stanksy and Toyota Motor Corporation professor of economics at the New York University Stern School of Business.

"Clearly, the physical work environment can affect nurses' ability to do their jobs effectively and efficiently," said Djukic. "The right environment facilitates nurses' work, which increases their job satisfaction, which in turn reduces turnover. All of those improve patient outcomes. When investing in facilities' construction or remodeling, health care leaders should look at features that enhance workgroup cohesion, nurse-physician relations, and other factors that affect job satisfaction. Those investments will pay off in the long run."

The researchers measured job satisfaction in terms of procedural justice, autonomy, nurse-physician relationships, distributive justice, opportunities for promotion, workgroup cohesion, and variety in one's job. Physical environment was assessed based on the architectural, ambient, and design features of the workspace, including crowdedness, ventilation, lighting, arrangement of furniture, colors and decorations, aesthetic appearance, and the need for remodeling.

"This study supports our previous findings, which indicate that investing in improving nurses' work environments is extremely worthwhile," said Kovner. "We'd suggest that future studies delve into which aspects of the physical work environment best support the factors that enhance ' ."

The study is based on a 98-question survey of 1,141 RNs, which is part of RN Work Project, a nationwide, 10-year longitudinal survey of RNs begun in 2006 by Kovner and Brewer, and supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Nurses surveyed were licensed for the first time by exam between August 1, 2004, and July 31, 2005, in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

Explore further: Improving patient care by improving nurses' work environment

More information: Research in Nursing & Health DOI: 10.1002/nur.21606

Related Stories

Improving patient care by improving nurses' work environment

November 30, 2011
While nurse-to-patient ratios are widely recognized as an important factor in determining the quality of patient care, those ratios are not always easy to change without significant cost and investment of resources. What's ...

Does physician verbal abuse create a bad working environment—or the reverse?

August 6, 2013
A recent study by the RN Work Project found that newly licensed registered nurses (NLRNs) who were verbally abused by nursing colleagues reported lower job satisfaction, unfavorable perceptions of their work environment, ...

New nurses verbally abused by colleagues have lower commitment to employer, less likely to stay in current job

June 19, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Verbal abuse against nurses in the workplace, including abuse by other nurses, is both common and well-documented. The negative effects of that abuse and the adverse impact on patient care are also well-documented. ...

RNs' delayed retirement boosts US nursing supplies, study finds

July 16, 2014
Older registered nurses are working longer than in the past, one reason that the nation's supply of RNs has grown substantially in recent years, according to a new study.

Magnet hospitals have higher quality of care, study says

March 11, 2014
Magnet recognition is considered a leading source for measuring organizational success in nursing. Magnet hospitals show higher job satisfaction and lower odds of patient mortality than non-Magnet hospitals. However, only ...

Recommended for you

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

November 15, 2018
Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet—or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper featured on the cover of Science magazine's special issue on nutrition, researchers ...

Colder, darker climates increase alcohol consumption and liver disease

November 14, 2018
Where you live could influence how much you drink. According to new research from the University of Pittsburgh Division of Gastroenterology, people living in colder regions with less sunlight drink more alcohol than their ...

Survey reveals how we use music as a possible sleep aid

November 14, 2018
Many individuals use music in the hope that it fights sleep difficulties, according to a study published November 14 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Tabitha Trahan of the University of Sheffield, UK, and colleagues. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.