Nurses report valuing features such as views of nature, sunlight and ergonomic furniture in restorative break rooms.

Image by Katie Bowman/Gresham Smith

With high levels of stress and burnout widely reported, it stands to reason that nurses should take a little time for themselves. When researchers looked into the issue, however, they found that while on the job, nurses typically take only a few minutes to attend to basic bodily needs and don’t actually engage in extended, restorative breaks, according to a study published in Workplace Health & Safety.

The study, “On the Restorative Break: Understanding the Role of Break Room Design on Nurse Engagement and Satisfaction,” which was conducted at a medical-surgical inpatient facility in northeast Florida, relied on on-site behavior mapping, focus groups, an online survey and break room usage rates analysis that showed that the majority of staff members had average visits of only 5.5 minutes.

During focus group discussions, participants described two distinct types of breaks: “restorative breaks,” or those that allow staff to de-stress and recharge; and “bio breaks,” or those that are quick and focus on basic needs like food and water. Nurses also identified five major physical environment themes they like in a restorative break environment: technology; opportunities for nutrition; relaxing decor; access to nature; and ergonomic furniture that provides physical relaxation.

As such, the research team will zero in on the effect of administrative and design interventions on the restorative break during the second part of this ongoing longitudinal study.