Shift Length Affects Nurse Well-Being, Patient Satisfaction

(Doctor’s Lounge) For nurses, working extended hours is associated with increased job dissatisfaction and burnout, and with patient dissatisfaction, according to a study published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the impact of extended work shifts (12 hours or longer) on patient care and nurse well-being. Data were collected from the national Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey, conducted among a sample of 22,275 nurses who worked in 577 hospitals in four states (California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida).

The researchers found that more than 80 percent of the nurses were satisfied with the hospital scheduling practice. However, patient dissatisfaction increased as the proportion of nurses working shifts of more than 13 hours increased. Burnout, job dissatisfaction, and intent to leave the job were up to two and a half times more likely for nurses working shifts of 10 hours or longer versus those working shorter shifts.

“Policies regulating work hours for nurses, similar to those set for resident physicians, may be warranted,” the authors write. “Nursing leaders should also encourage workplace cultures that respect nurses’ days off and vacation time, promote nurses’ prompt departure at the end of a shift, and allow nurses to refuse to work overtime without retribution.”