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Keywords:

  • burnout;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • practice;
  • quality of care;
  • research

Aims.  To describe nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction and quality of care in Japanese hospitals and to determine how these outcomes are associated with work environment factors.

Background.  Nurse burnout and job dissatisfaction are associated with poor nurse retention and uneven quality of care in other countries but comprehensive data have been lacking on Japan.

Design.  Cross-sectional survey of 5956 staff nurses on 302 units in 19 acute hospitals in Japan.

Methods.  Nurses were provided information about years of experience, completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory and reported on resource adequacy and working relations with doctors using the Nursing Work Index-Revised.

Results.  Fifty-six per cent of nurses scored high on burnout, 60% were dissatisfied with their jobs and 59% ranked quality of care as only fair or poor. About one-third had fewer than four years of experience and more than two-thirds had less than 10. Only one in five nurses reported there were enough registered nurses to provide quality care and more than half reported that teamwork between nurses and physicians was lacking. The odds on high burnout, job dissatisfaction and poor–fair quality of care were twice as high in hospitals with 50% inexperienced nurses than with 20% inexperienced nurses and 40% higher in hospitals where nurses had less satisfactory relations with physicians. Nurses in poorly staffed hospitals were 50% more likely to exhibit burnout, twice as likely to be dissatisfied and 75% more likely to report poor or fair quality care than nurses in better staffed hospitals.

Conclusions.  Improved nurse staffing and working relationships with physicians may reduce nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction and low nurse-assessed quality of care.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Staff nurses should engage supervisors and medical staff in discussions about retaining more experienced nurses at the bedside, implementing strategies to enhance clinical staffing and identifying ways to improve nurse-physician working relations.