Interruptions during nurses' work: A state-of-the-science review

Res Nurs Health. 2013 Feb;36(1):38-53. doi: 10.1002/nur.21515. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


The purpose of this state-of-the-science review was to examine empirical evidence from studies of interruptions conducted in acute care nurses' work environments. A total of 791 articles published from 2001 through 2011 were reviewed; 31 met the criteria to be included in the sample. Despite sustained multinational and multidisciplinary attention to interruptions during nurses' work, the current findings suggest that beliefs about the ill effects of interruptions remain more conjecture than evidence-based. Pre-existing beliefs and biases may interfere with deriving a more accurate grasp of interruptions and their effects. Future research would benefit from examinations of interruptions that better capture their complexity, to include their relationships to both positive and negative outcomes for both patients and health care workers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Evidence-Based Nursing
  • Health Facility Environment*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Safety*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Workflow