Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Are nurses fit to work?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

How fit are nurses compared with those they look after - the general population, and what happens to nurses' fitness when they work as nurses? That was the focus of a study from Australia by Perry et al. (2017) which aimed to: 'examine the quality of life of nurses and midwives in New South Wales, Australia and compare values with those of the Australian general population; to determine the influence of workforce, health and work life characteristics on quality of life and its effect on workforce intention to leave'. The outcome of this study is an article published in JAN titled: 'Health, workforce characteristics, quality of life and intention to leave: The ‘Fit for the Future’ survey of Australian nurses and midwives'.

Physical and mental health in over 4,500 nurses was studied over two years in New South Wales and compared with the general public and the characterstics of the nurses related to their fitness was examined. The results showed that nurses were more physically fit than the general public but less fit in terms of mental health. Nurses became less physically fit as they aged but reported better mental health. Nurses with poor mental health were more likely to want to leave their job.

The authors concuded: 'The study provides evidence for nursing/midwifery managers, researchers, decision-makers and policy-makers, and advocates for the development and implementation of targeted interventions for the nursing and midwifery workforce. Findings indicate potential benefit in terms of staff quality of life and workforce retention, for interventions focused not only on mental health, well-being, coping and resilience particularly but also on better sleep, pain reduction, smoking cessation and general health screening/health promotion.

You can listen to this as a podcast

Reference

Perry, L., Xu, X., Duffield, C., Gallagher, R., Nicholls, R. and Sibbritt, D. (2017), Health, workforce characteristics, quality of life and intention to leave: The ‘Fit for the Future’ survey of Australian nurses and midwives. J Adv Nurs. doi:10.1111/jan.13347

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