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Review article: Staff perception of the emergency department working environment: Integrative review of the literature

Review article
Authors A. Johnston
L. Abraham
J. Greenslade
O. Thom
Eric Carlström
M. Wallis
J. Crilly
Published in Emergency Medicine Australasia
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 7-26
ISSN 1742-6731
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 7-26
Language en
Keywords ED, integrative review, staff perception, working condition, working environment, occupational stress, psychological distress, shift work, nurses, accident, impact, physicians, medicine, burnout, health, Emergency Medicine
Subject categories Health Sciences


Employees in EDs report increasing role overload because of critical staff shortages, budgetary cuts and increased patient numbers and acuity. Such overload could compromise staff satisfaction with their working environment. This integrative review identifies, synthesises and evaluates current research around staff perceptions of the working conditions in EDs. A systematic search of relevant databases, using MeSH descriptors ED/EDs, Emergency room/s, ER/s, or A&E coupled with (and) working environment, working condition/s, staff perception/s, as well as reference chaining was conducted. We identified 31 key studies that were evaluated using the mixed methods assessment tool (MMAT). These comprised 24 quantitative-descriptive studies, four mixed descriptive/comparative (non-randomised controlled trial) studies and three qualitative studies. Studies included varied widely in quality with MMAT scores ranging from 0% to 100%. A key finding was that perceptions of working environment varied across clinical staff and study location, but that high levels of autonomy and teamwork offset stress around high pressure and high volume workloads. The large range of tools used to assess staff perception of working environment limits the comparability of the studies. A dearth of intervention studies around enhancing working environments in EDs limits the capacity to recommend evidence-based interventions to improve staff morale. (c) 2016 The Authors. Emergency Medicine Australasia published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australasian College for Emergency Medicine and Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine

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