Veille documentaire MTPH

Médecine du travail du personnel hospitalier

Gender and ergonomics: a case study on the ‘non-formal’ work of women nurses

Auteur     Silvana Salerno
Auteur     Lucilla Livigni
Auteur     Andrea Magrini
Auteur     Irene Figà Talamanca
Résumé     Women’s work activities are often characterised by ‘non-formal actions’ (such as giving support). Gender differences in ergonomics may be due to this peculiarity. We applied the method of organisational congruencies (MOC) to ascertain the ‘non-formal’ work portion of nurses employed in three hospital units (haematology, emergency room and general medicine) during the three work shifts in a major University Hospital in Rome, Italy. We recorded a total of 802 technical actions performed by nine nurses in 72 h of work. Twenty-six percent of the actions in direct patient’s care were communicative actions (mainly giving psychological support) while providing physical care. These ‘double actions’ are often not considered to be a formal part of the job by hospital management. In our case study, the ‘non-formal’ work of nurses (psychological support) is mainly represented by double actions while taking physical care of the patients. The dual task paradigm in gender oriented research is discussed in terms of its implications in prevention in occupational health. Practitioner Summary: The main purpose of the study was to assess all the formal and non-formal activities of women in the nursing work setting. Offering psychological support to patients is often not considered to be a formal part of the job. Our case study found that nurses receive no explicit guidelines on this activity and no time is assigned to perform it. In measuring the burden of providing psychological support to patients, we found that this is often done while nurses are performing tasks of physical care for the patients (double actions). The article discusses the significance of non-formal psychological work load of women nurses through double actions from the ergonomic point view.
Publication     Ergonomics
Volume     55
Numéro     2
Pages     140-146
Date     Feb 2012

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