The role of nursing team continuity in the treatment of very-low-birth-weight infants: findings from a pilot study

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Abstract

Aim

To assess the association between nursing team continuity and quality of care.

Background

Research on nurse staffing and its effect on quality of care is investigated to different degrees. However, very few studies have observed whether the continuous deployment of nursing staff is associated with quality of care.

Methods

This study was conducted in two university neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). We matched nurse schedule data for the NICUs with nursing-sensitive patient outcomes and quality of care, as perceived by parents. We used analysis of variance to analyse differences in nursing team continuity between NICUs and regression analyses to identify associations with the outcome measures.

Results

There were considerable differences between units in terms of team continuity of nursing staff. Positive associations were found between team continuity and a higher rate of non-invasive respiratory support as well as parents' perceptions of how well they knew their nurse.

Conclusions

The findings show remarkable differences in staff assignment in the different NICUs. In addition to appropriate staffing levels, scheduling nursing teams continuously would appear to play a role in influencing treatment quality.

Implications for nursing management

This paper emphasises the importance of carefully considered staff scheduling decisions.

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