posted on June 20: McMaster nursing researchers say healthier nurses’ workplaces could mean healthier patients


More independence in their work, better job security and protection from abuse would all help make the workplace healthier for nurses — and that could mean healthier patients, a new report says.

McMaster professor Andrea Baumann, associate dean of health sciences nursing, co-authored the report Commitment and Care: The benefits of a healthy workplace for nurses, their patients and the system with Linda Lee O'Brien-Pallas of the University of Toronto. Two researchers from the Nursing Effectiveness Utilization and Outcomes Research Unit — Jennifer Blythe, an assistant professor of nursing and Michelle Butt, a senior research associate — and assistant clinical nursing professor Leila Ryan also worked on the national report released yesterday.

The report makes more than four dozen recommendations, ranging from a call to governments to make long-term funding commitments so nurses have some job security, to suggesting that employers reserve parking spots close to the hospital for the safety of nurses on the night shift. It says good working conditions for nurses should be part of the rating system for hospitals and recommends experienced nurses spend up to 20 per cent of their time guiding their junior colleagues.

How could a healthy workplace for nurses help patients and the system? Every day, 8.5 per cent of Canadian nurses call in sick, one of the highest rates of absenteeism of any profession. Their job-related injuries cost society more than injuries of fire fighters or police. But there are many hidden hurts as well. Nurses face increasing abuse and violence on the job and high numbers of them in Canada, Sweden, the U.S. and Britain say they suffer work pressures severe enough to affect patient care.

Commitment and Care was commissioned by the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation in partnership with The Change Foundation to provide the people who run Canada's healthcare system with evidence-based recommendations for improving it.

Funding and advice were also provided by Health Canada, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Canadian Council of Health Services Accreditation, the Calgary Regional Health Authority and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.