Work environment and workforce problems: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey of hospital nurses in Belgium

Koen Milisen, Ivo Abraham, Kaat Siebens, Elisabeth Darras, Bernadette Dierckx de Casterlé et al.
International Journal of Nursing Studies 2006, 43 (6): 745-54

OBJECTIVES: This study investigated Belgian hospital nurses' perceptions on work environment and workforce issues, quality of care, job satisfaction and professional decision making.

METHODS: All eligible nurses in a selection of 22 hospitals received the BELIMAGE questionnaire for a total of 13,958 potential respondents. Of these, 9941 returned study materials (response rate=71.2%) of which 9638 were valid and useable for statistical analysis (valid response rate=69.1%).

RESULTS: The study identified several areas of tension in the nursing profession. The commitment to being competent providers of quality care was remarkably strong among the nurses, but they also perceived the barriers in the work environment to be multiple and complex. Concerns about the quality of leadership and management, insufficient staff, time demands and stressful work environment are experienced as obstacles in providing good nursing care. Four out of ten nurses (39.2%) would not choose nursing again as a career and more than half of the nurses (54.3%) have contemplated leaving the profession at some point in time.

CONCLUSIONS: To effectively tackle the professional and workforce issues in nursing, investments should focus on redesigning a work environment that supports nurses in providing comprehensive professional care.

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