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Legitimacy of work tasks, psychosocial work environment, and time utilization among primary care staff in Sweden
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Local Health Care Services in West Östergötland, Research & Development Unit in Local Health Care.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Primary Care Center, Primary Health Care Center Kärna, Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Operations management Region Östergötland, Research and Development Unit.
2019 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, ISSN 0281-3432, E-ISSN 1502-7724, p. 1-8Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Objective: Primary care staff faces a complex work environment including a heavy administrative work load and perceive some work tasks as illegitimate. This study aimed to elucidate associations between the perceived legitimacy of work tasks, the psychosocial work environment, and the utilization of work time among Swedish primary care staff.

Design and setting: The study was designed as a multicenter study involving all staff categories, i.e. registered nurses, primary care physicians, care administrators, nurse assistants and allied professionals, at eleven primary care centers in Sweden.

Subjects: Participants completed the Bern Illegitimate Tasks Scale and the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire. They also recorded time spent on all work tasks, day by day during two separate weeks.

Main outcome measures and results: More than a quarter (27%) of primary care physicians perceived a high proportion of unnecessary work tasks. After adjusting for profession, age and gender, the perception of having to perform unreasonable work tasks was positively associated with experiencing role conflicts and with the proportion of organization-related administration and service work tasks.

Conclusion: Across all staff groups, the perception of unreasonable work tasks was more pronounced among staff with a high proportion of non-patient related administration. Also, the perception of having to perform a large amount of illegitimate work tasks affected the psychosocial work environment negatively, which might influence staffs perception of their professional roles. These results illuminate the importance of decision makers to thoroughly consider the distribution and allocation of non-patient related work tasks among staff in primary care.Key pointsWe observed an interaction between perception of having a large proportion of illegitimate work tasks and impaired psychosocial work environment. • More than a quarter of the primary care physicians perceived a high proportion of unnecessary work tasks.• Across all staff groups, performing unreasonable work tasks was associated with an experience of having role conflicts.• Across all staff groups, a perception of performing unreasonable work tasks was associated with the proportion of non-patient related administrative work tasks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2019. p. 1-8
Keywords [en]
Primary care, occupational health, organization and administration, professional roles
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology Applied Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-161649DOI: 10.1080/02813432.2019.1684014ISI: 000494011100001PubMedID: 31682152OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-161649DiVA, id: diva2:1367755
Note

Funding agencies: Medical Research Council of Southeast Sweden; Sodertorn University Sweden

Available from: 2019-11-05 Created: 2019-11-05 Last updated: 2019-11-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Time flies in primary care: a study on time utilisation and perceived psychosocial work environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Time flies in primary care: a study on time utilisation and perceived psychosocial work environment
2019 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Time utilisation among primary care professionals has been affected by structural changes and reorganisation performed in Swedish primary care over several decades. The work situation is complex with a heavy administrative work load. The overall aim with this thesis was to describe time utilisation among staff in Swedish primary care and to investigate associations with perceived psychosocial work environment and legitimacy of work tasks.

Methods: A multicentre, descriptive, cross-sectional study design was used including all staff categories in primary care i.e. registered nurses, primary care physicians, care administrators, nurse assistants and allied professionals (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, counsellors, dieticians and chiropodists) at eleven primary care centres located in southeast Sweden. The data collection consisted of a questionnaire including a subjective estimate of workload, the Bern Illegitimate Tasks Scale (BITS) and the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ). Also, a time study was performed, where the participants reported their work time based on three main categories; direct patient work tasks, indirect patient work tasks and other work tasks, each with a number of subcategories. The participants reported time spent on different work tasks, day by day during two separate weeks. Response rates were 75% for the questionnaire and 79% for the time study.

Results: In paper I the time study revealed that health professionals at the primary care centres spent 37% of their work time with direct patient work tasks. All professions estimated a higher proportion of time spent directly with patients than they reported in the time study. Physicians scored highest on the psychosocial scales of quantitative demands, stress and role conflicts. The proportion of administrative work tasks was associated with role conflicts, the more administration the more role conflicts. Findings in paper II were that more than a quarter of physicians scored above the cut-off value for BITS regarding unnecessary work tasks, which was significantly more than the proportion observed in all other professions in the survey. Across all staff groups, a perception of having to perform illegitimate work tasks was associated with experiencing negative psychosocial work environment and with high proportion of administrative-related work tasks.

Conclusions: Swedish primary care staff spend a limited proportion of their work time directly with patients and primary care physicians perceive the psychosocial work environment in negative terms to a greater extent than all other staff members. Allocation of work tasks has an influence on the perceived psychosocial work environment. The perception of having a large number of illegitimate work tasks affects the psychosocial work environment negatively, which might influence the perception the staff have of their professional roles. Perception of high proportion of unreasonable work tasks is associated with a high proportion of non-patient-related administration.

This thesis illuminates the importance of decision makers thoroughly considering the distribution and allocation of non-patient related work tasks among staff in primary care, in order to achieve efficient use of personnel resources and favourable working conditions. Hopefully, the results of this study will contribute to further development of primary care so that medical competence will benefit patients as much as possible.

Abstract [sv]

Bakgrund: Under de senaste decennierna har det i svensk primärvård varit omfattande omorganisationer, vilket har påverkat arbetstidens innehåll. Arbetssituationen är komplex och omfattningen av administration har ökat. Det övergripande syftet med föreliggande studie var att beskriva arbetstidens innehåll bland personal i svensk primärvård och att undersöka samband mellan upplevd psykosocial arbetsmiljö och arbetsuppgifternas legitimitet.

Metod: Studien har genomförts som en deskriptiv multicenterstudie med tvärsnittsdesign och inkluderade sjuksköterskor, läkare, vårdadministratörer, undersköterskor och övriga professioner (fysioterapeuter, arbetsterapeuter, psykologer, kuratorer, dietister och fotvårdsspecialister) vid elva vårdcentraler i sydöstra Sverige. Studien inleddes med att deltagarna ombads att besvara ett frågeformulär vars första del bestod av en skattning av hur arbetsuppgifterna var fördelade. Frågeformuläret innehöll också frågor om illegitima arbetsuppgifter; Bern Illegitimate Tasks Scale (BITS) och psykosocial arbetsmiljö; Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ). Därefter gjordes en tidsstudie där deltagarna fick registrera tidsåtgången för olika arbetsuppgifter, varje dag under två separata veckor. Arbetsuppgifterna delades upp i tre huvudkategorier; direkt patientarbete, indirekt patientarbete och övrigt arbete. Varje huvudkategori hade flera underkategorier. Svarsfrekvensen var 75% för frågeformuläret och 79% för tidsstudien.

Resultat: Resultatet från delarbete I visar att personal i primärvård ägnade 37% av arbetstiden direkt med patienter. Alla professioner skattade den direkta patienttiden till större andel än vad tidsstudien visade. Läkare upplevde sämst psykosocial arbetsmiljö avseende kvantitativa krav, stress och rollkonflikter. Det förelåg ett samband mellan andelen administrativa arbetsuppgifter och rollkonflikter, ju mer administration desto mer rollkonflikter. I delstudie II visade resultatet att mer än en fjärdedel av läkarna upplevde en hög nivå av illegitima arbetsuppgifter avseende onödiga arbetsuppgifter, vilket var signifikant mer jämfört med andra professioner. För personalgruppen som helhet framträdde ett samband mellan upplevelsen av att ha mycket illegitima arbetsuppgifter och upplevelse av negativ psykosocial arbetsmiljö samt med hög andel administrationsrelaterade arbetsuppgifter.

Konklusion: Personal i primärvård ägnar en begränsad andel av arbetstiden åt direkt patientarbete och läkare upplever sämre psykosocial arbetsmiljö än övriga professioner. Arbetstidens fördelning mellan olika arbetsuppgifter påverkar den psykosociala arbetsmiljön. Upplevelsen av att utföra en stor andel illegitima arbetsuppgifter påverkar den psykosociala arbetsmiljön negativt, vilket kan ha inverkan på hur personalen uppfattar sin professionella roll. Upplevelsen av att ha mycket oskäliga arbetsuppgifter har samband med hög andel icke patientrelaterad administration.

Avhandlingen belyser vikten av att beslutsfattare noga överväger fördelningen av icke patientrelaterade arbetsuppgifter bland personal i primärvård, för att möjliggöra effektiv användning av personalresurserna och för att främja goda arbetsförhållanden. Förhoppningen är också att studiens resultat ska bidra till fortsatt utveckling av primärvården så att den medicinska kompetensen kommer patienterna till nytta i så stor omfattning som möjligt.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2019. p. 60
Series
Linköping Studies in Health Sciences. Thesis, ISSN 1100-6013 ; 136
National Category
Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-156119 (URN)10.3384/lic.diva-156119 (DOI)9789176852033 (ISBN)
Presentation
2019-04-26, Linden, Campus US, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-04-04 Created: 2019-04-04 Last updated: 2019-11-05Bibliographically approved

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