Objectives: To describe (1) the extent to which acute and intensive care units use the elements of nursing models (team, functional, primary, total patient care, patient-focused care, case management) and (2) the deployment of non-unit-based personnel resources.
Background: The lack of current data-based behavioral descriptions of the extent to which elements of nursing models are implemented makes it difficult to determine how work models may influence outcomes.
Methods: Nurse managers of 56 intensive care units and 80 acute care adult units from 40 randomly selected US hospitals participated in a structured interview regarding (1) day-shift use of patient assignment behaviors associated with nursing models and (2) the availability and consistency of assignment of non-unit-based support personnel.
Results: No model was implemented fully. Almost all intensive care units reported similar assignment behaviors except in the consistency of patient assignment. Non-intensive care units demonstrated wide variation in assignment patterns. Patterns differed intra-institutionally. There were large differences in the availability and deployment of non-unit-based supportive resources.
Conclusions: Administrators must recognize the differences in work models within their institutions as a part of any quality improvement effort. Attempts to test new work models must be rigorous in the measurement of their implementation.