Methodological integrative review of the work sampling technique used in nursing workload research

Authors

  • Nicole Blay BHA RN,

    PhD Student, Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Health Services Management (CHSM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Christine M. Duffield PhD RN,

    Professor & Director
    1. Centre for Health Services Management (CHSM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Robyn Gallagher PhD RN,

    Associate Professor, Professor of Nursing
    1. Chronic & Complex Care, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney Nursing School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Michael Roche PhD RN

    Senior Lecturer
    1. Centre for Health Services Management (CHSM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Abstract

Aim

To critically review the work sampling technique used in nursing workload research.

Background

Work sampling is a technique frequently used by researchers and managers to explore and measure nursing activities. However, work sampling methods used are diverse making comparisons of results between studies difficult.

Design

Methodological integrative review.

Data Sources

Four electronic databases were systematically searched for peer-reviewed articles published between 2002–2012. Manual scanning of reference lists and Rich Site Summary feeds from contemporary nursing journals were other sources of data.

Review Methods

Articles published in the English language between 2002–2012 reporting on research which used work sampling to examine nursing workload.

Results

Eighteen articles were reviewed. The review identified that the work sampling technique lacks a standardized approach, which may have an impact on the sharing or comparison of results. Specific areas needing a shared understanding included the training of observers and subjects who self-report, standardization of the techniques used to assess observer inter-rater reliability, sampling methods and reporting of outcomes.

Conclusion

Work sampling is a technique that can be used to explore the many facets of nursing work. Standardized reporting measures would enable greater comparison between studies and contribute to knowledge more effectively. Author suggestions for the reporting of results may act as guidelines for researchers considering work sampling as a research method.

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