August 1, 2010

Nursing Units and Communication

HealthPartners Regions Family Birth Center

Nurses are primary contacts for all those involved in a patient’s care, creating a complex system of communication responsibilities. The work environment of nurses is complicated, stressful, detail-oriented, and it significantly influences patient outcomes. Communication between nurses and members of the patient care team is critical to the delivery of quality health care. Understanding how and when nurses communicate with each other could help designers of health care spaces create more effective environments that support nurses’ work and personal health and welfare.

Few studies have analyzed how the design of nursing units influences staff in terms of informal communication, learning opportunities, job stress, and satisfaction. Spatial characteristics within office environments have been studied to have social consequences (e.g., productivity, collaboration) for the occupants of that environment. It is possible that these design concepts, studied and used in office settings, could be applied to health care environments and be beneficial to nurses and patient outcomes.

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