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Hospital nurses working wounded: Motivations and obstacles to return to work as experienced by nurses with injuries


BACKGROUND: Despite the high rate of work-related injuries among hospital nurses, there is limited understanding of factors that serve to motivate or hinder nurses return to work following injury.

OBJECTIVES: Perspectives of nurses with work related injuries, as they relate to obstacles and motivations to return to work, consequences of injury, and influences of work climate were documented.

METHODS: This was a sub-study of nurses taken from a larger investigation of hospital workers. A purposive sample of 16 nurses was interviewed. Analysis was carried out using grounded theory as the research method.

RESULTS: Nurses' responses fell into four concepts: organizational influences, personal conditions, costs and losses, and employee health as influenced by workers' compensation systems. Conceptualization of these concepts resulted in key categories: injury as an expected consequence of hospital work; nursing alone versus nursing together; the impact of injury on professional, family, and social roles; and nurses' understanding of and involvement with the workers' compensation system.

DISCUSSION: The findings provide new perspective into features that support or hinder nurses' with injuries return to work and corroborate existing occupational health research. Consideration of these findings by hospital and employee health managers may help promote more effective return to work programs within the hospital setting.