Nurses’ on-shift physical activity levels

Miss Stephanie Chappel1, Miss Simone Verswijveren1, Dr Brad Aisbett1, Professor Julie Considine2,3, Dr  Nicola Ridgers1

1Deakin University, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Geelong, Australia, 2Deakin University, School of Nursing and Midwifery and Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research, Geelong, Australia, 3Eastern Health – Deakin University Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre, Box Hill, Australia

Aim: To examine nurses’ on-shift physical activity levels and explore how nurses accumulate their physical activity during a shift.

Methods: A systematic search was performed using seven databases in May 2016. Articles were included if they measured nurses’ on-shift physical activity objectively and/or subjectively. Two researchers independently screened studies, extracted data, and assessed the quality of data from identified articles. A narrative synthesis was performed. The review is registered with PROSPERO and reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA).

Results: From the 8,752 articles identified, 14 studies were included. The majority of studies objectively-measured on-shift physical activity (79%). Nurses typically engage in light-intensity physical activity (LPA) on-shift, but can accumulate up to 58% of the weekly recommended activity across one shift. Eight studies reported on nurses’ accumulation of physical activity, finding that the majority of a shift was spent standing or walking and completing direct patient care activities, some of which were of a moderate-intensity.

Significance of findings to allied health: During a shift, nurses typically engage in LPA, interspersed with moderate-intensity tasks. Interestingly, on-shift physical activity accounts for up to 58% of weekly recommended physical activity levels. However, little is known about how nurses’ accumulate this activity across a shift, and how shift patterns (e.g. rotating shifts) may impact on their activity. This would be the first step towards understanding how nurses’ cope with the physical workplace demands and possible effects this may have on workplace and patient safety.