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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: Post Acceptance: October 23, 2017
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001198
Original Article: PDF Only


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.


A cross sectional descriptive survey was conducted with 1,790 nurses across the U.S.


Over half of the nurses reported sub-optimal physical and mental health. Approximately half of the nurses reported having medical errors in the past 5 years. Compared to 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.


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

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

Funding Sources: None

Conflicts of Interest: None Declared

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