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Using a Task Analysis to Describe Nursing Work in Acute Care Patient Environments

Battisto, Dina PhD; Pak, Richard PhD; Vander Wood, Melissa A. MS; Pilcher, June J. PhD

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: December 2009 - Volume 39 - Issue 12 - p 537-547
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e3181c1806d

To improve the healthcare environment where nurses work and patients receive care, it is necessary to understand the elements that define the healthcare environment. Primary elements include (a) the occupants of the room and what knowledge, skills, and abilities they bring to the situation; (b) what tasks the occupants will be doing in the room; and (c) the characteristics of the built environment. To better understand these components, a task analysis from human factor research was conducted to study nurses as they cared for hospitalized patients. Multiple methods, including a review of nursing textbooks, observations, and interviews, were used to describe nurses' capabilities, nursing activities, and the environmental problems with current patient room models. Findings from this initial study are being used to inform the design and evaluation of an inpatient room prototype and to generate future research in improving clinical environments to support nursing productivity.

Authors' Affiliations: Associate Professor (Dr Battisto), Architecture and Health Program, School of Architecture; and Assistant Professor and Active Faculty Member, Human Factors Group, Department of Psychology (Dr Pak), Graduate (Ms Vander Wood), and Professor (Dr Pilcher), Department of Psychology, Clemson University, South Carolina.

Corresponding author: Dr Battisto, 137 Lee Hall, School of Architecture, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634 (

Funding: This study was funded by Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System and NXT (a nonprofit firm that supports innovative research in health design).

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.