Stockholm 2003 abstracts: Hasselhorn HM et al

Hasselhorn HM(1), Josephson M(2), Lindberg P(2), Tackenberg P(3), Mueller BH(3) and the NEXT-Study Group

(1) Department of Occupational Medicine, University of Wuppertal, Germany (2) Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden (3) Department of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, University of Wuppertal, Germany

Intent to leave nursing among nurses in Europe - First results from the European NEXT-STUDY

Introduction: The provision of a sufficiently large pool of nurses will be a major challenge for health policy in the future. The problem of lack of nurses in Europe is well known. In several countries, decreasing interest in nursing education among young school leavers can be observed (e.g. Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia). Migration of nurses within Europe is prevalent but will not solve the problem. Most nurses in Europe leave their profession long before reaching retirement age.

The longitudinal NEXT-Study (Nurses - Early Exit Study, investigates the reasons for and the circumstances of premature departure from nursing in Europe. The study design bases on questionnaire assessments of nurses, special assessments of leaving nurses and check lists of the participating institutions. The NEXT-Study is being financed by the European Union and lasts from February 2002 until November 2004. So far, more than 28.500 self report questionnaires have been collected from nurses working in 378 institutions in 7 of the ten participating countries.

Results: Preliminary results show that between 4 and 13% of the European nursing profession considers leaving their profession weekly or more often. A gradient from north (less often) to south (more often) was observed. German preliminary data (n=3535) indicates that intent to leave was associated with high qualification level and with young age. In multivariate analysis "intent to leave" was strongly associated with "work-family conflict" (in all age groups), with "no challenging work" and to low degree with high physical work load (in older age groups). A differentiated analysis of the European data will be presented.

Conclusions: Our preliminary results from the German assessment indicate that especially highly qualified nurses have the highest �intent to leave nursing�. Taking a) the demographic change, and b) the decreasing interest in nursing education among young school leavers into account, our observations indicate a severe threat for future assurance of health care for all. However, to implement preventive action in institutions, a differentiated analysis is necessary which also includes organisational aspects. Furthermore, it must be assessed whether "intent to leave nursing" is associated with "actual departure" out of the profession. This will be the case in the European NEXT-Study.