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Nursing teamwork, staff characteristics, work schedules, and staffing

Kalisch, Beatrice J.; Lee, Hyunhwa

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e3181aaa920

Purpose: This study aimed to explore whether and how staff characteristics, staffing, and scheduling variables are associated with the level of teamwork in nursing staff on acute care hospital patient units.

Design: This was a cross-sectional study with a sample of 1,758 nursing staff members from two different hospitals on 38 patient care units who completed the Nursing Teamwork Survey in 2008. This study focused on nursing teams who are stationed on a particular patient care unit (as opposed to visitors to the units). The return rate was 56.9%. The sample was made up of 77.4% nurses (registered nurses and licensed practical nurses), 11.9% assistive personnel, and 7.9% unit secretaries.

Findings: Teamwork varied by unit and service type, with the highest scores occurring in pediatrics and maternity and the lowest scores on the medical-surgical and emergency units. Staff with less than 6 months of experience, those working 8- or 10-hour shifts (as opposed to 12 hours or a combination of 8 and 12 hours), part-time staff (as opposed to full time), and those working on night shift had higher teamwork scores. The higher teamwork scores were also associated with no or little overtime. The higher perception of the adequacy of staffing and the fewer patients cared for on a previous shift, the higher the teamwork scores.

Conclusions: There is a relationship between selected staff characteristics, aspects of work schedules, staffing, and teamwork. Nursing staff want to work where teamwork is high, and perceptions of good staffing lead to higher teamwork. Higher teamwork scores correlated with those who worked less overtime.

Beatrice J. Kalisch, PhD, RN, FAAN, is Chair, Nursing Business and Health Systems, and Titus Distinguished Professor, University of Michigan, School of Nursing, Ann Arbor. E-mail:

Hyunhwa Lee, RN, MSN, PhDc, is Research Associate, University of Michigan, School of Nursing, Ann Arbor.

This study was approved by the University of Michigan's institutional review board.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.