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A National Study Links Nurses’ Physical and Mental Health to Medical Errors and Perceived Worksite Wellness

Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek PhD, RN; Orsolini, Liana PhD, RN; Tan, Alai PhD; Arslanian-Engoren, Cynthia PhD, RN; Melkus, Gail D’Eramo EdD, C-NP; Dunbar-Jacob, Jacqueline PhD, RN; Rice, Virginia Hill PhD, RN; Millan, Angelica DNP, RN; Dunbar, Sandra B. PhD, RN; Braun, Lynne T. PhD, CNP; Wilbur, JoEllen PhD, APN; Chyun, Deborah A. PhD, RN; Gawlik, Kate DNP, RN; Lewis, Lisa M. PhD, RN

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 2 - p 126–131
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001198

Objective: The aim of this study was to describe (1) nurses’ physical and mental health; (2) the relationship between health and medical errors; and (3) the association between nurses’ perceptions of wellness support and their health.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive survey was conducted with 1790 nurses across the U.S.

Results: Over half of the nurses reported suboptimal physical and mental health. Approximately half of the nurses reported having medical errors in the past 5 years. Compared with nurses with better health, those with worse health were associated with 26% to 71% higher likelihood of having medical errors. There also was a significant relationship between greater perceived worksite wellness and better health.

Conclusion: Wellness must be a high priority for health care systems to optimize health in clinicians to enhance high-quality care and decrease the odds of costly preventable medical errors.

The Ohio State University College of Nursing, Columbus, Ohio (Drs Melnyk, Tan, Gawlik); Bon Secours Health System, Marriottsville, Maryland (Dr Orsolini); University of Michigan School of Nursing, Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Dr Arslanian-Engoren); New York University College of Nursing, New York, New York (Dr Melkus, Dr Chyun); University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Dr Dunbar-Jacob); Emeritus, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan (Dr Rice); LAC/DPH Children's Medical Services, El Monte, California (Dr Millan); Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Atlanta, Georgia (Dr Dunbar); Rush University College of Nursing, Chicago, Illinois (Drs Braun, Wilbur); and University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Dr Lewis).

Address correspondence to: Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, PhD, RN, The Ohio State University College of Nursing, 1585 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 (

Work conducted by the Million Hearts® Subcommittee of the Health Behavior Expert Panel of the American Academy of Nursing.

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital contents are available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine