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Improved Work Environments Enhance Patient and Nurse Satisfaction

Healthcare provider burnout is a mounting public health crisis with up to half of all physicians and one in three nurses reporting high burnout, data show. Burnout rates among nurses also correlate with lower patient satisfaction. While both factors are recognized, little is known about how effective interventions in nurse working conditions, managerial support, or resource enhancement can lessen burnout and improve patient satisfaction.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) has examined how hospital organizational factors influence nurse burnout and patient satisfaction. Using data from 463 hospitals in four states, researchers learned that hospitals with the best work environments were also those with the lowest burnout and highest patient satisfaction.

“Our examination of patient satisfaction and nurse burnout is particularly timely as satisfaction is increasingly viewed as a quality indicator and directly linked to reimbursement through the Value Based Purchasing Program (VBP),” says Penn Nursing’s J. Margo Brooks Carthon, PhD, APRN, FAAN, Associate Professor and lead investigator of the study. “Improving patient satisfaction scores via improved nurse work environments could also translate to increased hospital revenue by tens of thousands of dollars for those in the VBP program.”

The researchers suggest that one way to improve nurse work environments and lower burnout is to attain Magnet designation or institute Magnet-like initiatives. “This includes fostering relationships between nurses, administrators, and physicians, and ensuring that nurses have decision-making authority in their practice and adequate resources and time to do their work,” says Brooks Carthon.

The study’s findings have been published online in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality in an article titled “Work Environments Lead to Lower Nurse Burnout and Higher Patient Satisfaction.” Co-authors of the study include Heather Brom, PhD, APRN; Linda H. Aiken, PhD, FAAN, FRCN; and Amelia Schlak, BSN, RN, all of Penn Nursing; and Linda Hatfield, PhD, NNP-BC, FAAN; Mary Houton, BSN, RN, CMSRN, CRN; and Erin Kelly-Hellyer, MSN, RN-BC, all of Pennsylvania Hospital. This study was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (R01NR014855 and T32-NR0714), Pennsylvania Hospital Professional Nursing Research Scholarship Program.