Public Release: 

Organizational traits associated with quality patient care are essential to home care nursing

Rutgers University

NEWARK, N.J. - Organizational traits that support hospital-based nurses' efforts to provide high quality patient care and enhance their job satisfaction are also essential to home care nursing, according to a study conducted by a Rutgers College of Nursing faculty member. This is the first step towards researching the impact of the nurse work environment on patient care outside of hospital setting.

The study, "Organizational Attributes Valued by Hospital, Home Care and District Nurses in the United States and New Zealand," is featured in the first quarter issue of the Journal of Nursing Scholarship (volume 37 issue 1) published in late March 2005.

Almost two decades of research indicates that organizational traits such as professional autonomy, collaborative relationships with physicians, and access to resources needed to provide quality care, are associated with higher nurse retention and lower in-patient mortality in hospitals. However less is known how these organizational traits support other nursing practices such as home care nursing and district nursing, its international counterpart, according to Linda Flynn, assistant professor at the College of Nursing at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. This becomes more important as the population ages and the demand for home care and district nursing increases.

"We know that organizational work traits predict important things like patient mortality, nurse retention and job satisfaction in hospitals," said Flynn, a Center Valley, PA, resident. "So we want to find out if these organizational traits, which help support and enhance a nurse's work environment in a hospital, are important in other settings like home care and district nursing."

The study features the results of a survey of home care nurses in the United States and district nurses in New Zealand based on the Nursing Work Index-Revised (NWI-R) designed to measure the degree to which these organizational traits are present in work environments.

The survey was mailed to 660 home care nurses randomly selected from the American Nurses Association list and 635 New Zealand district nurses from the Nursing Council of New Zealand list. Findings are based on the 403 completed surveys received from home care nurses in 48 states and 320 New Zealand district nurses.

For this study, respondents were not asked to indicate the degree that traits depicted by the NWI-R were "present" in their work environment. Instead, nurses were asked to rate the importance of each item on the NWI-R to support their professional nursing practice.

According to the survey, 80 percent or more of the home care and district nurses "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with 47 of the 49 traits. In reviewing the survey, Flynn said, home care and district nurses valued the same core set of organizational traits as hospital-based nurses. "Further research is needed to determine if this set of organizational attributes are not only important to home care and district nurses, but also allow predicting positive nurse and patient outcomes in those settings," Flynn noted.

From its headquarters at Rutgers Newark, Rutgers College of Nursing offers a broad range of academic programs on all three Rutgers campuses. The college offers a master's program with unique practitioner specialties and the only doctoral (Ph.D) nursing degree in New Jersey.


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