The nurse work environment in Spanish nurses following an economic recession: From 2009 to 2014

J Nurs Manag. 2019 Sep;27(6):1294-1303. doi: 10.1111/jonm.12811. Epub 2019 Jul 15.


Aim: To detect possible changes in perception of the nurse work environment, job satisfaction and burnout between the years 2009 and 2014 among nurses working in the Spanish National Health System.

Background: The global economic crisis has had a great impact on nurses in the Spanish National Health Service: tougher working conditions, lower pay and a reduction in social benefits. It is not known whether these changes affect the nurses' work environment, job satisfaction and burnout.

Method: Comparative, cross-sectional study performed in seven hospitals in the Spanish National Health System between 2009 and 2014, through 1,454 surveys of nurses working in internal medicine, surgery and intensive care.

Results: Nurses participating in the second period (2012-2014) were more satisfied with their current job (p = 0.001), perceived their work environment to be more favourable (p < 0.001) and had lower levels of burnout (p < 0.01). Professional factors as 'autonomy at work,' 'opportunities for advancement,' 'professional status' and 'nursing foundations for quality care,' as well as 'collegial nurse-physician relations' and 'nurse participation in hospital affairs' were the most important variables associated with these topics.

Conclusions: Professional factors may influence these changes more than labour conditions and remuneration aspects.

Implications for nursing management: In times of economic recession, encouraging interpersonal relationships, autonomy and participation in decision-making may improve the work environment, satisfaction and burnout of nurses.

Keywords: cross-sectional studies; job satisfaction; nursing and administration research; nursing staff; professional burnout; workplace.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Economic Recession / trends*
  • Employment / methods
  • Employment / standards
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / standards*