The nursing practice environment: measurement and evidence

Med Care Res Rev. 2007 Apr;64(2 Suppl):104S-22S. doi: 10.1177/1077558707299253.


Improvements in nurses' practice environments are essential to retain nurses and keep patients safe. The pace of improvements can accelerate if evidence is translated clearly for researchers, managers, and policymakers. This article evaluates the utility of published multidimensional instruments to measure the nursing practice environment. The assessment criteria are theoretical relevance, ease of use, and dissemination. This article also synthesizes the research that has used these instruments. Seven instruments and 54 studies are evaluated. The Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index (PES-NWI) is proposed as the most useful instrument. Its content, length, and dissemination best satisfy the set of criteria. Researchers should use the PES-NWI to generate consistent and comparable evidence; expand the content to reflect all conceptual domains; develop a short form; test the instrument in different care settings; expand the evidence of the practice environment's influence on patient outcomes; and test interventions for practice environment improvements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Care / standards*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*