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Characteristics of successful interventions to reduce turnover and increase retention of early career nurses: a systematic review

Brook, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-8867-0150, Aitken, L. M. ORCID: 0000-0001-5722-9090, Webb, R. , MacLaren, J. & Salmon, D. ORCID: 0000-0003-2562-2116 (2018). Characteristics of successful interventions to reduce turnover and increase retention of early career nurses: a systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 91, pp. 47-59. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2018.11.003


nurse shortages have been identified as central to workforce issues in healthcare systems globally and although interventions to increase the nursing workforce have been implemented, nurses leaving their roles, particularly in the first year after qualification, present a significant barrier to building the nurse workforce.

to evaluate the characteristics of successful interventions to promote retention and reduce turnover of early career nurses.

this is a systematic review

Data sources
Online databases including Academic Search Complete, Medline, Health Policy reference Centre, EMBASE, Psychinfo, CINAHL and the Cochran Library were searched to identify relevant publications in English published between 2001 and April 2018. Studies included evaluated an intervention to increase retention or reduce turnover and used turnover or retention figures as a measure.

Review methods
The review was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Studies were quality-assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal tools for Quasi Experimental and Randomised Controlled Trials. Retention/turnover data were used to guide the comparison between studies and appropriate measures of central tendency and dispersion were calculated and presented, based on the normality of the data.

A total of 11, 656 papers were identified, of which 53 were eligible studies. A wide variety of interventions and components within those interventions were identified to improve nurse retention. Promising interventions appear to be either internship/residency programmes or orientation/transition to practice programmes, lasting between 27-52 weeks, with a teaching and preceptor and mentor component.

Methodological issues impacted on the extent to which conclusions could be drawn, even though a large number of studies were identified. Future research should focus on standardising the reporting of interventions and outcome measures used to evaluate these interventions and carrying out further research with rigorous methodology. Clinical practice areas are recommended to assess their current interventions against the identified criteria to guide development of their effectiveness. Evaluations of cost-effectiveness are considered an important next step to maximise return on investment.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Attrition, Intervention, nurse retention, nurse turnover, nurse workforce, transition, preceptorship, residency, internship, mentorship
Subjects: R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Characteristics of successful interventions to reduce nurse turnover-A Systematic Review.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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