Background: Fiscal constraints, an ageing populations and the increasing burden of chronic conditions are stressing health systems internationally. Nurses are the linchpin of effective healthcare delivery and their success is dependent on adequate staffing models, which must align knowledge, skills and competencies with workload. Objectives: To compare measures of nursing workload in adult inpatient settings. Design, data sources and review method: A review of published studies characterising nursing workload measures was undertaken. Databases—PubMed and CINHAL—were used to identify published studies. A description of the psychometric properties of each measure and its use in an inpatient setting was required for inclusion. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement was used to guide and report the review. Results: Of the 1,422 studies identified, 15 met the inclusion criteria. Nursing workload was measured in the intermediate care unit (n = 6), overall hospital (n = 7), emergency department (n = 1) and burn unit (n = 1) settings and also by mailed survey (n = 1). Eleven different workload measures were identified. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index (n = 3), Therapeutic Intervention Scoring System (n = 3) and Nursing Activities Score (n = 2) were the most common nursing workload measures identified with reported psychometric properties. Conclusion: Researchers, clinicians and hospital administrators should carefully identify and assess the psychometric properties of nursing workload measures before using these in routine practice. Relevance to clinical practice: Gaining a consensus on effective nursing workload measures is a crucial step in designing appropriate staffing models and policies, improving nurse productivity and well-being, as well as enhancing patient health outcomes in inpatient settings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas