Background: Information about recruitment and retention factors and quality of work life (QWL) in rural emergency departments (EDs) is limited. A pilot study was used to determine the feasibility of a large-scale study of these variables in Quebec EDs.
Methods: Two EDs, approximately 10,000 and 30,000 patients per year respectively, were selected as convenience samples. An online survey containing the Quality of Work Life Systemic Inventory (QWLSI; 34 items) and the Recruitment and Retention Factors Questionnaire (39 items) was sent to ED nurses and physicians of these two EDs. Descriptive statistics of percentage, mean and standard deviation and correlations were used to analyse the data.
Results: Forty out of 64 eligible workers (62%) gave their consent to participate, but only 20 had completed both questionnaires. Participants' mean age was 42 years (SD = 11.6). The average participants satisfaction with their access to continuing education was low (Mean = 1.6, SD = 0.8). However, their satisfaction with technical resources (Mean = 2.4, SD = 0.7), pre-hospital and inter-hospital transfer services (Mean = 2.5, SD = 0.6), relationships with colleagues (Mean = 2.7, SD = 0.6) and managers (Mean = 2.2, SD = 0.7), work-life balance (Mean = 2.4, SD = 0.6) and emergency patient access to other departments (Mean = 3.7, SD = 0.6) was in the average. The impact of several aspects of the rural environment (e.g. tranquility) on quality of life was also in the average (Mean = 2.5, SD = 0.7). QWL was in the average, excepted subscale 'support offered to employee' for which the QWL was lower.
Conclusions: Data collection was difficult and the larger study will require strategies to improve recruitment such as a paper alternative. The study showed globally good recruitment and retention factors and QWL for these ED nurses and physicians. These results will help hospital administrations better plan initiatives aimed at improving retention and QWL.