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What is the extent, range and nature of evidence available around the impact of 12-hour nursing shift patterns?
© Harris 2015
Published: 8 October 2015
12-hour shift patterns in nursing are increasingly prevalent in health and care organisations. Key drivers are potential financial savings, perceived impact on staff recruitment/retention and improved continuity of care. However, there are concerns that longer shifts may have a detrimental impact on patients, staff, service delivery/productivity, and access to healthcare staff.
A comprehensive scoping review using Arksey & O'Malley's methodological framework  was undertaken in 2013-2014 to answer the question ‘What is the extent, range and nature of evidence available around the impact of 12-hour nursing shift patterns?’ A wide range of electronic databases were searched; papers identified were independently reviewed by 2 reviewers.
158 potentially relevant papers were published between 1973 and 2014; 85 primary research studies and 10 reviews were included. These addressed 5 themes: risks to patients, patient experience, risks to staff, staff experience and impact on the organisation of work. Evidence of the effects of 12-hour shift patterns is inconclusive in all 5 themes, with some studies demonstrating positive impacts and others negative or no impacts.
There is insufficient evidence to justify widespread implementation or withdrawal of 12-hour shifts. The benefits and risks of 12-hour shifts for patients and staff are complex and not clearly understood. More research on patient safety and experience of care, on the long-term impact on staff and work organisation and the impact on continuity of care and patient access to direct nursing care is needed.
- Arksey H, O'Malley L: Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. 2005, 8 (1): 19-32.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
- Harris R, Sims S, Parr J, Davies N: Impact of 12 hour shift patterns in nursing: a scoping review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2015, 52 (2): 605-634.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
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