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Nurse wellbeing has 'direct impact' on patient care


Levels of satisfaction and wellbeing among NHS staff have a direct impact on patients’ experiences of healthcare, according to a major study by leading UK nurse researchers.  

Investing in staff wellbeing is, therefore, not only important for the nursing workforce but also for quality of care overall, they argue.

The three year study was carried out by the National Nursing Research Unit at King’s College London and Southampton University and aimed to determine which particular staff attitudes and behaviours impacted on patient experiences.

It involved over 200 hours of direct care observation at four trusts – two acute and two in the community – as well as hundreds of interviews and surveys of patients, frontline staff and senior managers.

Glenn Robert, healthcare quality and innovation chair at the NNRU, said the study showed interpersonal relationships with staff were “critical to patient experience”, but the level of such connections was “often poor”.

“Patients want staff to show genuine interest in them as people; to be non-judgemental and competent; continuity of staff enhances levels of trust and the confidence felt by patients that their care needs are fully understood,” he said.

But Professor Robert added: “Staff often reported not being able to deliver the care they wanted to, citing insufficient staffing levels and competing demands on their time as preventing them from delivering the high quality care they wished to give”.

NNRU director and lead study author Jill Maben said the findings were “significant” for proving the importance of staff wellbeing, while acknowledging they might seem obvious to many nurses.

“While it may appear self-evident that patients’ experiences and the quality of health care they receive are influenced by the experiences of the staff providing that care, there was limited UK research that explored this link,” she said.

“This study strongly suggests that patient experiences are better when staff feel they have a good working environment, support from co-workers and their manager and low emotional exhaustion.”

Professor Maben added that the study highlighted the “importance of the team” and the “critical role” of the team leader role in “supporting and nurturing staff and in building a strong climate for patient care”.



Readers' comments (51)

  • Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 9:51 am

    One last point.

    Do you know the first question you would be asked by any of the 'Powers That Be', (who wouldn't, if their life depended on it, seek the opinion of 'anyone who has either sat in on a disciplinary hearing or been the subject of one', 'any GP' or 'any caring patient and relative'), after reading through your comments?

    "Where's your evidence?"!

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  • anon 4.01 - plenty of evidence, you just need to know where to look.

    nothing will be done with the results of this study, there have been plenty of similar studies carried out in other countries.

    it's all just rubbish, nurses who feel threatened do not give 100% to the job.

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  • Even though it's a no-brainer to us nurses this is a great bit of research. It gives us evidence to argue for more staff, better management, education etc.

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  • Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 5:25 pm
    Well, nothing will be done by you will it?
    Others have had to do the research and I suppose others will have to fight your corner for you. Pah!

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  • Mike Stone
    Tut, tut, Dr Stone, rubbishing the scientific method. Would you be interested in buying the prototype perpetual motion machine that I have built, or learn the secret of transmuting lead into gold, £200,000 for the lot ( and for anyone else on here who has got the cash), sorry can't give any proof about that claim until the cash is safely deposited in my Caymen Island bank account!
    Research takes a long, long, long time to devise, gather and then collate ( the mathematics really would be a struggle for most, even for those nurses not suffering from Dyscalcula. Chi squared etc, etc), but one wonders whether this study is flawed merely because of sample size.
    I was always under the impression that you need probably 10 times as many subjects as this to truly allow for statistical differences to make themselves felt ( for example Gallup poles at elections have a sample size of about 1500-2000 to be 'accurately' extrapolated to the rest of the population).
    Sometimes nursing does seem to be about teaching yer gran ter suck eggs, but we need to move away from anecdotes, God knows we have done enough (accidental) harm over the years because we have gone down the old-wives tale path instead of the scientific.

    Aren't you going to join the new male nurses union? Free movember for all the ladies who want to join{ those of you who haven't already got one, ahem} ( p.s. has anyone heard about the new 'charity' fundraiser for hisute ladies called 'Fannuary'? Or did I have a very vivid dream!))

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  • tinkerbell

    redpaddys12 | 18-Nov-2012 10:58 pm

    if only there was something to join. I've got a union but never hear diddley squat from them.

    I've got colleagues who just agree with everything i say but don't offer any suggestions about what to do about it all.

    Think i am going to have to take my soap box to Hyde Park and rouse a rabble there with the local down and outs or join the sally army and get myself a tambourine.

    It is a bit concerning to me that i am starting to feel deflated, there is so much hot air but no action. Maybe we can get a balloon in the air but not much else going.

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  • I have read this report which states "our results support what we already suspected".

    It also bases its findings on wards typically care for 25 patients - 6-7 nursing staff on a day, 4-5 on a night shift, 8 patients per RN during the day, 10.8 patients per RN on a night shift. Where I work we are obviously completely off the scale, apparently the lowest staffing ratio was 10.9 patients per RN on a shift - I have 14.

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  • anon 9.4`1 - what will you do with this research? what steps have you taken to try and improve the situation.

    I would be grateful for any help you can offer me. So far I have written to everyone I can possibly write to, have completed these 'surveys' and submitted many many incident reports, I sit in on management meetings and patient group meetings, took part in the industrial action back in the 90's when the London hospitals were closed - what else do you think I and others (like yourself) can do?

    UNISON carried out a 24hr survey and came to the same conclusion as this survey.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 3:50 pm

    I did not question the methododlogy of this study - I questioned its usefulness !

    redpaddys12 | 18-Nov-2012 10:58 pm

    Well, that's the point - none of us would easily accept that perpetual motion machine, would we, because our 'body of understanding' would entirely collapse if we could find such a thing (although modern quantum physics, and especially these 'dark forces', do raise issues about that).

    But you need to have worked out how to improve nurse wellbeing to the optimum 'resources in and patient benefit out' balance point, for this research (and I admit I have not looked at it) to really be objectively useful - and I would be amazed, if it ahd managed to do that !

    Surely starting with some hard facts about nursing numbers and staffing mixes re measurable patient outcomes and patient complaint levels, would be a better place to start this from ?

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  • Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 9:41 pm
    I addressed my comment to Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 5:25 pm because I am sick of nurses who moan and don't do anything about it. Whether or not you are the same person I'm happy to answer your comment.
    I have done all the things that you have and are doing, been on strike, out on marches, days of action, written to MPs, etc and I will continue to do so. I am glad that you are another of the minority who do something. But most nurses do none of that. I agree with Anonymous | 18-Nov-2012 3:50 pm , Charlie Spencer | 18-Nov-2012 7:50 pm and others. This study (it's not a survey. Huge difference) is done and it is up to us to use it and other evidence to make our case. For me the issue is nurses themselves. Rubbishing the research and those who carried it out is typical of the defeatist and divisive attitude that exists in nursing. That's the real problem.

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