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Keywords:

  • interruptions;
  • patient safety;
  • work environment;
  • integrative review;
  • distractions

Abstract

The purpose of this state-of-the-science review was to examine empirical evidence from studies of interruptions conducted in acute care nurses' work environments. A total of 791 articles published from 2001 through 2011 were reviewed; 31 met the criteria to be included in the sample. Despite sustained multinational and multidisciplinary attention to interruptions during nurses' work, the current findings suggest that beliefs about the ill effects of interruptions remain more conjecture than evidence-based. Pre-existing beliefs and biases may interfere with deriving a more accurate grasp of interruptions and their effects. Future research would benefit from examinations of interruptions that better capture their complexity, to include their relationships to both positive and negative outcomes for both patients and health care workers. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 36:38–53, 2013