Changes to nurses' practice environment over time
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Aims: To examine changes in the nursing practice environment, retention-related factors, unit stability and patient care tasks delayed or left undone, over two periods between 2004 and 2013. Background: Positive nurse practice environments have been linked to nurse retention and care quality outcomes. Methods: The collection of the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index, job satisfaction, intent to leave, unit instability and tasks delayed or not done at six acute-care hospitals across three Australian states, in two waves between 2004 and 2013; results from the two waves are compared. Results: On average, practice environment scores declined slightly; nurses reported a greater difficulty in finding another nursing position, lower intent to leave their current job and greater instability in their current position. Rates of delayed tasks increased over the period, whereas rates of tasks left undone have decreased over the period. Conclusions: The decline in nurses' perceptions of the quality of the practice environment is disappointing, particularly given the protracted workforce shortages that have persisted. Significant organisational restructuring and turnover of nurse executives may have contributed to this decline. Implication for Nursing Management: Managers need to apply existing evidence to improve nurse practice environments and manage instability. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.