Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) remain one of the few areas in hospitals that still use an open bay (OPBY) design for patient stays greater than 24 hr, housing multiple infants, staff, and families in one large room. This creates high noise levels, contributes to the spread of infection, and affords families little privacy. These problems have given rise to the single-family room NICU. This represents a significant change in the care environment for nurses. This literature review answers the question: When compared to OPBY layout, how does a single family room layout impact neonatal nurses’ work? Thirteen studies published between 2006 and 2015 were located. Many studies reported both positive and negative effects on nurses’ work and were therefore sorted by their cited advantages and disadvantages. Advantages included improved quality of the physical environment; improved quality of patient care; improved parent interaction; and improvements in nurse job satisfaction, stress, and burnout. Disadvantages included decreased interaction among the NICU patient care team, increased nurse workload, decreased visibility on the unit, and difficult interactions with family. This review suggests that single-family room NICUs introduce a complex situation in which trade-offs occur for nurses, most prominently the trade-off between visibility and privacy. Additionally, the literature is clear on what elements of nurses’ work are impacted, but how the built environment influences these elements, and how these elements interact during nurses’ work, is not as well understood. The current level of research and directions for future research are also discussed.
- evidence-based design
- neonatal intensive care
- single family room
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine