Span of control is a multidimensional concept requiring a comprehensive definition that captures the complexities of the nurse manager's role in acute care settings. This concept analysis aimed to identify factors associated with span of control and provide a comprehensive definition outlining the breadth of this concept.
ProQuest, PubMed, and Scopus databases were used to search peer-reviewed literature addressing the span of control in acute care nurse management. The search produced 185 articles; 177 titles and abstracts were screened for eligibility. Data from 22 articles were included in this analysis.
This analysis includes antecedents, attributes, and consequences of expanded nurse manager spans of control. Work-related factors such as staff and manager experience levels, work complexity, and patient acuity are attributes of a nurse manager's span of control. Our findings suggest that expanded spans of control can have negative consequences on nurse managers such as role overload and burnout. Low satisfaction among staff and patients can result from excessive spans of control.
An awareness of span of control can promote sustainable nursing practices by improving workplace conditions, staff satisfaction, and patient care quality. Our findings may translate across other health disciplines and thus contribute to scientific knowledge that can support changes in job designs and encourage more manageable workloads.