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Low Levels of Nurse Staffing in the ICU Setting

The problem of low staffing levels has been persistent in the U.S. nursing setting for a significant amount of time, causing drastic changes in the quality of care. The observed situation has affected the ICU environment to the greatest extent, inciting a range of negative alterations to the specified setting, including a drop in positive patient outcomes, an increase in medical errors, and the overall deterioration of service quality. Thus, immediate changes are needed to manage the specified concern.

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Several studies have attempted to address the problem in question. Most research points to the development of other concerns that coexist with the issue of low staffing in nursing facilities, workplace burnouts being the most common issue (Alexander, Rollins, Walker, Wong, & Pennings, 2015).

Although each of the studies considered for the analysis tackles a different aspect of the low staffing rates, most of the articles imply that the lack of support and opportunities for professional development combined with increasingly high workload pressure affects nurses’ willingness to stay in the workplace. Each of the studies is related directly to the PICOT question, which suggests that workplace programs involving mediation, workshops, and relaxation techniques should affect the staffing rates in nursing settings positively.

Research Questions: Comparison

Each of the studies is focused on a specific aspect of the staffing issue and geared toward developing a viable and sustainable solution for the described problem. However, the details in the manner of asking the research question make the studies strikingly different from each other. For example, the paper by Bruyneel, Thoelen, Adriaenssens, and Sermeus (2016) studies the nature of low staffing levels, thus building a deep understanding of the issue.

The specified perspective is supported by the three research papers by Khamisa, Oldenburg, Peltzer, and Ilic (2015), Moss, Good, Gozal, Kleinpell, and Sessler (2016), and Sawatzky, Enns, and Legare (2015), respectively. The authors delve into the analysis of the factors that contribute to the drop in the levels of workplace staffing and the overall decrease in motivation levels among nurses. The difference in the research questions allows exploring the problem of low staffing rates from different angles and determining the strategies for handling it.

The rest of the studies concern themselves with the analysis of the strategies that can be used to manage the problem of workplace burnouts among nurses as one of the driving forces behind a drop in staffing rates (Redknap, Twigg, Rock, & Towell, 2015; Alexander et al., 2015; Chang et al., 2016; Ceravolo & Raines, 2018).

Sample Populations: Comparison

Since each of the studies has a unique design, the sample populations are quite different in each of the eight articles. The four articles that delve into the nature of the phenomenon adopt a qualitative method, hence the application of a cross-sectional design (Bruyneel et al., 2016; Khamisa et al., 2015; Moss et al., 2016; Sawatzky et al., 2015). The rest of the articles, however, are mostly quantitative and using the randomized controlled trial as a key tool in determining the answer to the research question.

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The specified choice is also justified since testing the efficacy of a proposed intervention, be it a training session or a change in nurses’ schedule, requires testing, as well as the further comparison between the experimental group and the control one (Redknap et al., 2015; Alexander et al., 2015; Chang et al., 2016; Ceravolo & Raines, 2018). Thus, an in-depth analysis of the subject matter becomes possible, and the optimal solutions for the issue of low staffing levels can be determined. Thus, the sample size varies from 188 to 10,000 samples.

Limitations: Comparison

While each of the authors has approached the problem of research biases very responsibly and addressed the existing limitations fully, the constraints of each research still have to be acknowledged. In most cases, limitations are attributed to the design of the selected articles. For instance, for qualitative studies, the prevalence of subjective information can be regarded as a significant constraint. As far as the quantitative analysis is concerned, the application of a controlled trial makes the results slightly biased due to the probability of underrepresenting a particular group of patients (File, Mueller, ‎Wisneski, & Stremmel, 2016). Nonetheless, the specified issues have been addressed fully by all the authors.


Despite the fact that each of the studies considered during the analysis of low staffing levels in the nursing setting address the same topic, they are strikingly different in terms of the approaches that their authors use for the analysis. With the focus of each article shifted toward a unique aspect of the staffing rates problem, the issue under analysis is explored from a wide range of its facets. As a result, one can develop a proper understanding of the concern and create a sustainable framework for handling it.

At present, it is strongly recommended to focus on the introduction of training opportunities for nurses to ensure that they can handle the increased workload and acquire new competencies. Furthermore, workplace benefits should be offered along with the reconsideration of the current arrangement of roles and responsibilities. The expected outcomes will lead to gradual improvements in the nursing setting.


Alexander, G. K., Rollins, K., Walker, D., Wong, L., & Pennings, J. (2015). Yoga for self-care and burnout prevention among nurses. Workplace Health & Safety, 63(10), 462–470. Web.

Bruyneel, L., Thoelen, T., Adriaenssens, J., & Sermeus, W. (2016). Emergency room nurses’ pathway to turnover intention: A moderated serial mediation analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 73(4), 930–942. Web.

Ceravolo, D., & Raines, D. A. (2018). The impact of a mindfulness intervention for nurse managers. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 1-7. Web.

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Chang, S. J., Kwak, E. Y., Hahm, B.-J., Seo, S. H., Lee, D. W., & Jang, S. J. (2016). Effects of a meditation program on nurses’ power and quality of life. Nursing Science Quarterly, 29(3), 227–234. Web.

File, N., Mueller, J. J., Wisneski, D. B., & Stremmel, A. J. (2016). Understanding research in early childhood education: Quantitative and qualitative methods. New York, NY: Routledge.

Khamisa, N., Oldenburg, B., Peltzer, K., & Ilic, D. (2015). Work-related stress, burnout, job satisfaction and general health of nurses. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(1), 652–666. Web.

Moss, M., Good, V. S., Gozal, D., Kleinpell, R., & Sessler, C. N. (2016). An official critical care societies collaborative statement: Burnout syndrome in critical care health care professionals: A call for action. American Journal of Critical Care, 25(4), 368–376. Web.

Redknap, R., Twigg, D., Rock, D., & Towell, A. (2015). Nursing practice environment: A strategy for mental health nurse retention? International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 24(3), 262–271. Web.

Sawatzky, J.-A. V., Enns, C. L., & Legare, C. (2015). Identifying the key predictors for retention in critical care nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(10), 2315–2325. Web.

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