Balancing the scales: Nurses’ attempts at meeting family and employer needs in a work-intensified environment

Clare Harvey, Adele Baldwin, Shona Thompson, Eileen Willis, Allanha Myer, Maria Pearson, Edmond Otis

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper describes findings from a survey conducted in New Zealand exploring nurses’ decision‐making about when to delay care, delegate care, hand care over or leave care undone. Unanticipated findings identified processes that nurses go through when deciding to take planned/unplanned leave when wards are constrained through budget limitations.

Missed/rationed care is increasingly the focus of attention in international studies, identifying a complex interplay of organisational, professional and personal factors affecting nurses’ decision‐making when faced with limited organisational time, human and material resources to provide care.

The survey presented nurses with Likert‐scale questions with option for free text comments. This paper reports on the commentaries about work–life balance.

Nurses described workload pressures that lead to rationing care affected them, and the long‐term effect on them as individuals. Nurses verbalized the difficulties and associated guilt about taking leaving and sick leave when wards were short staffed.

Nurses consider how their absence will affect the workspace and their home first, considering the impact on themselves last.

The findings may provide valuable insights for nurse managers in relation to workforce allocations and resources where acknowledgement of work–life balance is considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1880
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number8
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • missed nursing care
  • nursing
  • rationed care
  • work intensification


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