The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3094.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 10:50 AM

Abstract #58521

Work breaks & well-being: The effect of nature on hospital nurses

Katherine N. Irvine, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, 430 East University, Dana Building, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1115, 734/998-7715, and Sara L. Warber, MD, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center, University of Michigan, 715 E. Huron St. Suite 1W, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

A growing body of literature suggests that interaction with the natural world benefits human well-being. Healthcare settings are taking note, incorporating nature into patient care. Of equal importance is the well-being of healthcare professionals. This research explored the benefits of nature-interaction during work breaks for nurses’ psychological well-being. A six-week intervention was conducted with full-time, hospital nurses. Participants completed a survey – addressing job satisfaction, wellness, and effectiveness functioning – and a concentration task pre- and post-intervention. Participants also kept a log of work breaks and break activities. Individuals in the intervention group spent breaks outside in settings that contained some nature: at a minimum three times a week. Qualitative interviews were conducted at the end of the study. Results paint a picture of dedicated, committed, motivated individuals who rarely take allotted breaks during a work shift. Any breaks that are taken typically occur on the unit and include patient- or unit-related paperwork, computer work, and socializing. Nurses who took their work breaks outside near nature reported feeling refreshed, relaxed, and energized upon return – almost as if they were starting the day over again. Participants provided a litany of reasons why it is difficult to take breaks and almost impossible to go outside. These included external ones, such as patient acuity, staffing, and weather, and internal ones, such as the perception that taking a break burdens others and could be detrimental to one’s patients. Information obtained has implications for nurse retention, patient care, design of health care facilities and natural resource management.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Body, Mind and Spirit in Public Health - Part I

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA