Poor hospital design may negatively impact nurses' performance, study finds

An Australian study found that poorly-designed hospitals are adding to stress and burnout for nurses and is impacting staff retention.

The study, a collaboration between design company Hassell and the University of Melbourne, determined that the design of a hospital ward can negatively impact nurses' workflow and morale and may make them feel devalued.

"In our conversations with nurses, we found the condition of the facilities they worked in corresponded to how valued they felt by management," Megan Reading of Hassell told the Australian Associated Press.

Nurses are increasingly sought out for input on design projects, particularly on the basis of evidence-based design, which suggests that such decisions impact medical care, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Common design issues for nurses, the study found, was a lack of a break area or meeting spaces and spaces to complete paperwork away from patient beds. Better configuring wards, though, can improve efficiency, the team found. Decentralising equipment storage and placing break rooms near clinical areas can prevent nurses from making long trips to other needed areas, the team suggested. More natural light, and other simple changes, can also make the workplace seem less oppressive.

"Our work shows that it is not just about pay. While that is important, the team environment, organisational culture and hospital design also influence a nurse's decision of where to work," Lucio Naccarella, Ph.D., of the Melbourne Medical School and one of the study's researchers, told the AAP.

To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf)
- check out the AAP article, hosted by 9News