Perceived nursing work environment of critical care nurses

Jeungok Choi, Suzanne Bakken, Elaine Larson, Yunling Du, Patricia W Stone
Nursing Research 2004, 53 (6): 370-8

BACKGROUND: Different concepts and measures have been used to evaluate the work environment of nurses in hospital settings. There is increasing need for updated measurement tools that reflect the evolving nature of the work environment.

OBJECTIVES: To report the psychometric properties of the Perceived Nursing Work Environment (PNWE) instrument, and to compare these results with those of other scales derived from the same background instrument: the Nursing Work Index-Revised.

METHODS: The Nursing Work Index-Revised was used in a national survey of critical care nurses. Exploratory principal component analysis with orthogonal rotation was conducted. Psychometric properties were examined. Construct validity was evaluated by comparing the scores for a subsample of nurses in magnet and nonmagnet hospitals.

RESULTS: Surveys obtained from 68 hospitals across the nation had a mean response rate of 41%, resulting in a sample of 2,324 participants. The PNWE, with its seven subscales and 42 items, explained 53% of the total variance of the Nursing Work Index-Revised. The subscales exhibited moderate to high reliabilities ranging from .70 to .91, except for one subscale (.56), and generally low intercorrelation. A similar version of the nurse-physician collaboration subscale was found in three of the other four scales compared. The positive scheduling climate subscale was a unique finding. Nurses employed at magnet hospitals had more positive perceived work environments than those employed at nonmagnet hospitals, and showed higher mean scores in four of the seven subscales (p < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: The PNWE, a measure of the work environment as perceived by nurses, represents the latest version of the Nursing Work Index-Revised based on current practice. In this study, it exhibited sound psychometric properties. Further application and testing of the PNWE in various patient care settings is recommended.

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