Characteristics of an Optimal Nursing Work Environment in a Dutch Teaching Hospital in terms of Quality of Labour, Approached from a Socio-Technical Perspective
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Background: An optimal nursing work environment and adequate quality of labour are complementing to quality of care and patients’ satisfaction. Instruments to measure the nursing work environment are based on characteristics which disregard contemporary changes of nurses’ profession. Thereby, these instruments are focused on limited areas or do not include all aspects of quality of labour. An up-to-date and complete description of characteristics could be additively in patient, nursing and organisational outcomes. Research following all aspects of quality of labour is desired, where attention is paid to complexity of health care organisations where personal interactions and technology interfere. Aim: To identify characteristics of an optimal nursing work environment, in terms of quality of labour, for Dutch nurses working in a teaching hospital. Approached from a socio-technical perspective. Method: A generic qualitative study design is applied. Semi-structured interviews have been carried out between March and May 2021. Nurses and their floor and unit managers, working at nursing departments in teaching hospitals were selected using purposive sampling. Thematic analysis was conducted. Results: 15 interviews revealed four themes which gave insight in characteristics of an optimal nursing work environment, namely: ability to be meaningful, adequate equipment and supporting systems, recognition of the nursing role and identity and room to power professional development. These themes are linked by one overall theme: the position of nurses in the hospital organisation. Conclusion and recommendation: Within an optimal nursing work environment, nurses are self-confident and involved in organisational decision-making, the nursing role and identity is recognised and nurses’ voice resonates at managing level. Floor and unit managers are recommended to facilitate nursing role models which may contribute to the nursing work environment and position. Further research in academic and general hospitals is needed to complete the characteristics.