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Work-family conflict common among registered nurses, study shows

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- In a national survey of registered nurses, half reported chronic interference of work with their home lives, such as being unable to spend the time they wanted with their families, according to researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and colleagues. "Work-family conflict has significant implications for nurses in terms of personal health, their ability to provide quality care and for the nursing profession itself," said Joseph Grzywacz, Ph.D., an associate professor of family and community medicine and lead author on the study, reported in the current issue of Research in Nursing & Health.

The study is the first to provide reliable estimates of how frequently work-family conflict occurs among nurses.

Work-family conflict refers to situations in which the demands and responsibilities of work and family roles are incompatible in some respect. It can occur in both directions. For example, family can interfere with work if a worker is distracted by marital problems or a sick child. And, work can interfere with family when work schedules make it impossible to attend family functions or complete household chores.

Work-family conflict can exacerbate the current nursing shortage by discouraging people from entering the profession or prompting them to change careers, Grzywacz said. In addition, work-family conflict is associated with lower job satisfaction, fatigue, burnout, and emotional distress or depressive symptoms, according to research.

"Work-family conflict has the potential to undermine nurses' ability to provide high-quality care," Grzywacz said.

The study targeted registered nurses (RNs) who live in metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), which applies to 78 percent of all RNs. The researchers randomly selected 40 of the 51 MSAs and 4,000 RNs from those areas. The response rate to a questionnaire about work-family conflict was 48 percent, with 1,906 nurses completing the survey.

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Contact: Robert Conn
rconn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4587
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
15-Sep-2006


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