The goal of this research was to contribute to the understanding of how the physical design of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) environments may be improved to enhance nursing communication, and in turn, the quality and safety of patient outcomes. This study was guided by two research questions: (1) What are the major characteristics of nurse communication in a hybrid ICU nurse station design? (2) What are the factors in the built environment that enhance or hinder nurse communication in a hybrid ICU nurse station design? The research design was exploratory and qualitative. Observations were conducted in two ICUs with hybrid nurse station layouts. Participant observation was used to systematically observe and document nurse communication and the physical attributes of the ICU nurse work environment that affect communication. Literature, observations, and information regarding staffing and design about the selected ICUs were analyzed for the generation of concepts and the exploration of significant themes. Results show that nurse interactions with other staff members varied within the different zones of the ICU pod. A biaxial map illustrates four key types of core nurse communication interactions: At ease, On guard, In motion, and On the edge. The quadrants representing barriers to nurse communication are On guard and On the edge, and included interactions with other staff members in the pod. The quadrants representing facilitators to nurse communication are At ease and In motion. The hybrid nurse station layout supported nurse-nurse communication, but not communication interactions with other staff members present on the pod. The results provide a broad understanding of how nurse communication is affected by the environment in which nurses work, and allows for the emergence of design opportunities to enhance nurse communication.
- Critical communication: observing how ICU environments impact nurse communication
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by Emily Michelle Darling Newcomb