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Open Access Research article

Flow situations during everyday practice in a medical hospital ward. Results from a study based on experience sampling method

Åsa Bringsén12*, Göran Ejlertsson1 and Ingemar H Andersson1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health and Society, Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden

2 Department of Clinical Sciences Malmö, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, Sweden

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BMC Nursing 2011, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-10-3

Published: 2 February 2011

Abstract

Background

Nursing is a constant balance between strain and stimulation and work and health research with a positive reference point has been recommended. A health-promoting circumstance for subjective experience is flow, which is a psychological state, when individuals concurrently experience happiness, motivation and cognitive efficiency. Flow situations can be identified through individuals' estimates of perceived challenge and skills. There is, to the best of our knowledge, no published study of flow among health care staff. The aim of this study was to identify flow-situations and study work-related activities and individual factors associated with flow situations, during everyday practice at a medical emergency ward in Sweden, in order to increase the knowledge on salutogenic health-promoting factors.

Methods

The respondents consisted of 17 assistant nurses and 14 registered nurses, who randomly and repeatedly answered a small questionnaire, through an experience sampling method, during everyday nursing practice. The study resulted in 497 observations. Flow situations were defined as an exact match between a high challenge and skill estimation and logistic regression models were used to study different variables association to flow situations.

Results

The health care staff spent most of its working time in individual nursing care and administrative and communicative duties. The assistant nurses were more often occupied in individual nursing care, while the registered nurses were more involved in medical care and administrative and communicative duties. The study resulted in 11.5% observations of flow situations but the relative number of flow situations varied between none to 55% among the participants. Flow situations were positively related to medical care activities and individual cognitive resources. Taking a break was also positively associated with flow situations among the assistant nurses.

Conclusions

The result showed opportunities for work-related interventions, with an adherent increase in flow situations, opportunity for experience of flow and work-related health among the nursing staff in general and among the assistant nurses in particular.