Objective: The purpose of this body of work is to inform nurse leaders and design professionals of opportunities to leverage the physical environment to enhance the overall work environment for nurses.

Background: The environments in which nursing work takes place need to support the staff who work within them. Healthy work environments have been shown to improve outcomes for patients, nurses, and organizations; however, the contribution of the built environment to the overall work environment for nurses is not fully understood.

Methods: Included in this portfolio are three studies: 1) a descriptive study exploring the experiences of Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) in building and design work environment projects; 2) an e-Delphi study of CNOs to identify work environment and other strategies that might mitigate the job demands of 12-hour shifts; and 3) a cross sectional, predictive study exploring factors in physical work environments that influence intensive care unit (ICU) nurse work. Together these studies may inform the design community about how the physical environment can impact acute care nurse work.

Results: Results from these three studies included 1) recommendations for nurse leaders who may participate in building and design work environment projects, 2) recommendations for mitigating the job demands of 12-hour shift work, and 3) recommendations for improving both coworker and patient visibility to reduce work related stress for ICU nurses.

Conclusions: This work may offer nurse leaders and design professionals opportunity to dialogue and consider how to give nurses a voice in building and design projects to maximize return on investment and optimize patient, nurse, and organizational outcomes.

Date of publication

Fall 11-22-2021

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Dr. Ellen Fineout-Overholt, Dr. Danita Alfred, Dr. Jaynelle Stichler


PhD - Nursing

Available for download on Wednesday, November 29, 2023