Sensor-based measurement of critical care nursing workload: Unobtrusive measures of nursing activity complement traditional task and patient level indicators of workload to predict perceived exertion

Michael A. Rosen, Aaron S. Dietz, Nam Lee, I. Jeng Wang, Jared Markowitz, Rhonda M. Wyskiel, Ting Yang, Carey E. Priebe, Adam Sapirstein, Ayse P. Gurses, Peter J. Pronovost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective To establish the validity of sensor-based measures of work processes for predicting perceived mental and physical exertion of critical care nurses. Materials and methods Repeated measures mixed-methods study in a surgical intensive care unit. Wearable and environmental sensors captured work process data. Nurses rated their mental (ME) and physical exertion (PE) for each four-hour block, and recorded patient and staffing-level workload factors. Shift was the grouping variable in multilevel modeling where sensor-based measures were used to predict nursing perceptions of exertion. Results There were 356 work hours from 89 four-hour shift segments across 35 bedside nursing shifts. In final models, sensor-based data accounted for 73% of between-shift, and 5% of within-shift variance in ME; and 55% of between-shift, and 55% of within-shift variance in PE. Significant predictors of ME were patient room noise (ß = 0.30, p < .01), the interaction between time spent and activity levels outside main work areas (ß = 2.24, p < .01), and the interaction between the number of patients on an insulin drip and the burstiness of speaking (ß = 0.19, p < .05). Significant predictors of PE were environmental service area noise (ß = 0.18, p < .05), and interactions between: entropy and burstiness of physical transitions (ß = 0.22, p < .01), time speaking outside main work areas and time at nursing stations (ß = 0.37, p < .001), service area noise and time walking in patient rooms (ß = -0.19, p < .05), and average patient load and nursing station speaking volume (ß = 0.30, p < .05). Discussion Analysis yielded highly predictive models of critical care nursing workload that generated insights into workflow and work design. Future work should focus on tighter connections to psychometric test development methods and expansion to a broader variety of settings and professional roles. Conclusions Sensor-based measures are predictive of perceived exertion, and are viable complements to traditional task demand measures of workload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0204819
JournalPloS one
Volume13
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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