Development of the practice environment scale of the nursing work index


  • Eileen T. Lake

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6096
    • School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6096.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • *

      Assistant Professor

  • The author is grateful to Marlene Kramer for making available her 1985–1986 nurse survey data, to Linda Aiken for making available her 1999 nurse survey data, and to Julie Sochalski and Christopher Friese for their contributions to the study.

  • This article draws on papers by Eileen Lake, Julie Sochalski, and Ann Boulis presented at the 1999 Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Research Congress and the 2000 Eastern Sociological Society Meeting.


Five subscales were derived from the Nursing Work Index (NWI) to measure the hospital nursing practice environment, using 1985–1986 nurse data from 16 magnet hospitals. The NWI comprises organizational characteristics of the original magnet hospitals. The psychometric properties of the subscales and a composite measure were established. All measures were highly reliable at the nurse and hospital levels. Construct validity was supported by higher scores of nurses in magnet versus nonmagnet hospitals. Confirmatory analyses of contemporary data from 11,636 Pennsylvania nurses supported the subscales. The soundness of the new measures is supported by their theoretical and empirical foundations, conceptual integrity, psychometric strength, and generalizability. The measures could be used to study how the practice environment influences nurse and patient outcomes. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 25:176–188, 2002