Investigation of the causes and effects of stress in nurses working ‘floating shifts’
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Investigation of the causes and effects of stress in nurses working ‘floating shifts’

Outi Anneli Tuominen Nurse director, children and adolescents, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
Terhi Rantalainen Nurse manager, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
Eliisa Löyttyniemi Statistician, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Katriina Rehnbäck Occupational health psychologist, Occupational Health Centre, Laitila, Finland
Heljä Lundgrén-Laine Chief executive nursing officer, Central Finland Healthcare, Jyväskylä, Finland
Sanna Salanterä Vice dean and professor of clinical nursing science, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

Why you should read this article:
  • To recognise that nurses who work floating shifts can find the experience stressful

  • To understand the causes of stress in nurses who work floating shifts

  • To be aware of strategies that can be used to alleviate stress in nurses who work floating shifts

Background Nurses working in hospitals may occasionally be reassigned to other wards for various reasons, for example to cover sudden absences or to support heavier-than-usual workloads. This practice is known as ‘floating shifts’.

Aim To assess how nurses are affected by the stress of working floating shifts, to understand what causes and alleviates this stress and to identify strategies that can be used to reduce stress.

Method A cross-sectional research study which used an online survey.

Results Data were collected from 1,334 nurses in nine Finnish hospitals. Of these respondents, 63% (n=846) had worked floating shifts. Data analysis showed that having worked floating shifts in the past 12 months was not associated with increased reports of ongoing stress. However, respondents identified factors that they found stressful during floating shifts, such as the lack of a work partner.

Conclusion Nurse managers should consider how floating shifts are administered so that nurses feel supported when working on a different ward or unit. Nurse managers can greatly influence nurses’ ability to manage floating shifts.

Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2022.e2044

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Tuominen OA, Rantalainen T, Löyttyniemi E et al (2022) Investigation of the causes and effects of stress in nurses working ‘floating shifts’. Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2022.e2044

Published online: 16 June 2022

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