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Nurses' spiritual well being at work: The role of nature

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

Work breaks are an overlooked component of a supportive work environment for nurses. This research explores the effects of work breaks and the role of the natural environment on nursesí spiritual and cognitive well being. A six-week intervention was conducted with 57 hospital nurses. Participants completed baseline and post-assessment of cognitive and spiritual well being, and job satisfaction. Self care efforts and life demands were measured at baseline. Intervention group participants spent breaks in nature. Analysis of covariance was used to investigate relationships among predictor and outcome variables. Breaks from work and time in nature effect well being in distinct ways. A significant group effect was found for sense of wholeness; participants taking breaks in nature had a significantly greater sense of wholeness (mean=4.20; SE=.11) than those who took breaks inside (mean=3.91; SE=.08; p=.043, where 1=not at all, 5=almost always). Taking a work break, regardless of where, resulted in participants feeling more restored (p=.007). Individuals who engage in nature-focused self care outside of work, such as gardening or observing wildlife, were significantly more focused (p=.025); they also felt significantly more whole (p=.047). Interestingly, life demands negatively predicted measures of spiritual well being while measures of cognitive well being were unaffected. Findings provide insight into the value of work breaks and the role that interaction with the natural environment plays in well being. Results have implications for the structure of work days and patient care duties, nurse retention, patient care, and the physical design of health facilities.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to

Keywords: Well-Being, Staff Retention

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.

The Impact of Natural Environment and Social Connection on Human Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA