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A new study from Penn's School of Nursing found that the nurse work environment has the potential to improve patient and clinician well-being and safety.

Through a meta-analysis of past studies, researchers from the Nursing School's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research concluded that nurse work contributes to a positive hospital environment and should warrant resources and recognition from health care administrators. The researchers synthesized 16 years of studies, using reported data from more than 2,600 hospitals, 165,000 nurses and 1.3 million patients across 22 countries.

The nurse work environment refers to factors that help nurses provide better care, such as nurse-physician interaction and nurses' involvement in medical decisions. The researchers examined how nurse work environment influences four outcomes: nurse assessments of quality and safety, patient satisfaction, patient health, and nurse jobs.

Nursing and Sociology professor Eileen Lake, associate director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, served as the study's lead investigator. Lake previously created the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index, which measures how nursing care affects patient outcomes.  

Lake, also the Jessie M. Scott Endowed Term Chair in Nursing and Health Policy, told Penn Nursing News that her study supports the idea that nurse work is the foundation of a positive hospital environment. 

“Our results support the unique status of the nurse work environment as a foundation for both patient and provider well-being that warrants the resources and attention of health care administrators,” Lake said.

Other contributors to the study include 2018 Nursing and Wharton graduate Jordan Sanders, Biostatistics Ph.D. candidate Rui Duan, Biostatistics professor Yong Chen, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research predoctoral fellow Kathryn Riman, and College junior Kathryn Schoenauer. 

The study, which will soon be published in the journal Medical Care, was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Penn Nursing’s Office of Nursing Research. For the second year in a row, Penn's Nursing School received the highest NIH funding of any nursing school nationwide, with a $13.4 million endowment given in the 2018 fiscal year.

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