Magnet® hospitals offer better work environment for nurses than non-Magnet hospitals

Research Activities, June 2012, No. 382

Magnet® hospitals, designated on the basis of nurse professionalism and the quality of patient care, have better nursing work environments, staffing levels, and professional outcomes than hospitals without this credential, according to a new study. Magnet® hospital designation was developed in the 1980s to address significant shortages and high turnover of skilled nurses at hospitals, and was based on an analysis of 41 hospitals found to attract and retain nurses more strongly than other hospitals in their labor market.

A large survey of direct-patient-care registered nurses (RNs) in 4 States found that 46 Magnet®-designated hospitals had significantly better work environment scores than 521 non-Magnet hospitals. The Magnet® hospitals also had a significantly higher proportion of nurses with a bachelor's degree or higher in nursing than non-Magnet hospitals. What's more, Magnet® hospitals had a significantly lower average number of patients per nurse than non-Magnet hospitals (5.00 vs. 5.54), excluding California hospitals because of statewide staffing mandates.

The nurses at the two types of hospital did not differ in age, years of experience, proportion of females, or whether educated in the United States. However, proportionately more Magnet® nurses were specialty-certified. Nurses in Magnet® hospitals were also 18 percent less likely to report job dissatisfaction and 13 percent less likely to have high levels of burnout than nurses in non-Magnet hospitals, after adjusting for nurse, hospital, and hospital-level nursing characteristics.

The findings were based on a survey of a random sample of RNs licensed in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey in 2006 and 2007 and the hospitals employing them. The study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17551).

More details are in "Nurse outcomes in Magnet® and non-Magnet hospitals," by Lesly A. Kelly, Ph.D, R.N., Matthew D. McHugh, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H., R.N., C.R.N.P., and Linda H. Aiken, Ph.D., R.N., in the October 2011 The Journal of Nursing Administration 41(10), pp. 428-433.

Page last reviewed June 2012
Internet Citation: Magnet® hospitals offer better work environment for nurses than non-Magnet hospitals: Research Activities, June 2012, No. 382. June 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.