For more than 30 years, a negative "off-peak effect" on patient outcomes has been associated with weekend and/or nighttime hospitalization in more than 25 diagnostic groups. Descriptive studies have verified the presence of this off-peak effect on patient outcomes but have done little to explain its cause. Institutional ethnography is a promising method for describing challenges nurses encounter and deal with on off-peak shifts and for exploring how those challenges arose in institutions designed to avoid such outcomes. The authors discuss their research and suggest a number of steps that nurse administrators might take to enhance their knowledge for handling off-peak challenges in their hospitals.
Authors' Affiliations: Dean of Graduate Studies (Dr Hamilton), Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas; Assistant Professor (Dr Mathur) College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Texas Southern University, Houston; Director, Leadership Institute (Dr Gemeinhardt) Harris County Hospital District, Houston, Texas; Assistant Professor of Nursing (Dr Eschiti) University of Oklahoma; Professor Emeritus (Dr Campbell) University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Corresponding author: Dr Hamilton, Graduate Studies, Midwestern State University, 3410 Taft, Wichita Falls, TX 76308 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Funding: Funding for this project was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative.