Improving the health care work environment: Implications for research, practice, and policy

Michael I. Harrison, Kerm Henriksen, Ronda G. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Future Research: Despite the gains to date, we need better understanding of practices for implementing and sustaining improvements in health care work environments and further study of organizational conditions affecting implementation of improvements. Practice: Limiting work hours, improving schedules, and providing sleep hygiene training will help combat clinician fatigue. Hospital crowding can be reduced through systemwide improvement of patient flow and capacity management, coupled with management support, measurement, and reporting on crowding. Long-term solutions to nurse staffing shortfalls include process redesign to enhance efficiency. Improvement of organizational climate, human resource management, and interoccupational relations will also contribute to staff retention. Evidence-based enhancements to patient rooms and other physical features in hospitals contribute directly to safety and quality and also affect staff performance. Policy: Landrigan and his colleagues call for external restrictions on residents' work shifts. Clarke examines prospects for mandated nursing-staff ratios. Public reporting on staffing, crowding, and other risks may incent change. Reporting and pay for performance require standardized measures of targeted conditions. Organizations promoting care quality can help spread safe work practices; they can also support collaborative learning and other strategies that may enhance implementation of improvements in work environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-84
Number of pages4
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number11 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


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