Assessing the Physical Service Setting: A Look at Emergency Departments

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Objective:To determine the attributes of the physical setting that are important for developing a positive service climate within emergency departments and to validate a measure for assessing physical service design.Background:The design of the physical setting is an important and contributing factor for creating a service climate in organizations. Service climate is defined as employee perceptions of the practices, procedures, and behaviors that get rewarded, supported, and expected with regard to customer service and customer service quality. There has been research conducted which identifies antecedents within organization that promotes a positive service climate which in turn creates service-oriented behaviors by employees toward clients. The antecedent of the physical setting and its impact on perceptions of service climate has been less commonly explored.Methods:Using the concept of the physical service setting (which may be defined as aspects of the physical, built environment that facilitate the delivery of quality service), attributes of the physical setting and their relationship with service climate were explored by means of a quantitative paper survey distributed to emergency nurses (n = 180) throughout a province in Canada.Results:The results highlight the validity and reliability of six scales measuring the physical setting and its relation to service. Respondents gave low ratings to the physical setting of their departments, in addition to low ratings of service climate.Conclusions:Respondents feel that the design of the physical setting in the emergency departments where they work is not conducive to providing quality service to clients. Certain attributes of the physical setting were found to be significant in influencing perceptions of service climate, hence service quality, within the emergency department setting.

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