Non-nursing tasks, nursing tasks left undone and job satisfaction among professional nurses in South African hospitals

J Nurs Manag. 2015 Nov;23(8):1115-25. doi: 10.1111/jonm.12261. Epub 2014 Oct 27.


Aim: To investigate the relationship between non-nursing tasks (NNTs), nursing tasks left undone (NTLU) and job satisfaction among professional nurses (PNs) in South Africa (SA).

Background: This study adds to the international debate about the relationship between non-nursing tasks, nursing tasks left undone and job satisfaction by studying the variables at individual nurse and hospital unit level.

Method: A cross-sectional survey design of 1166 PNs in 60 medical and surgical units in 55 private hospitals and seven public hospitals.

Results: Nationally, the three main non-nursing tasks performed were clerical duties (M = 1.81), arranging discharge referrals and transport (M = 1.38) and performing non-nursing care (M = 1.31), while the main nursing tasks left undone were comfort/talk with patients (62.2%), educating patients and family (57.9%) and develop/update nursing care plans/pathways (51.6%). Nursing tasks left undone were only related to three non-nursing tasks, and job satisfaction correlated most highly with nursing tasks left undone.

Conclusion: Professional nurses conduct many non-nursing tasks, and leave several important nursing tasks left undone. Nursing tasks left undone cause the greatest degree of job dissatisfaction amongst professional nurses.

Implications for nursing management: Role overlapping and work performed by professional nurses below their skill level should be identified and re-organised; support services should be employed and efficiently used.

Keywords: South Africa; job satisfaction; non-nursing task; nursing tasks left undone; professional nurse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Documentation
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration
  • South Africa
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*