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Health Serv Res. 1993 Dec;28(5):577-97.

A comparison of work-sampling and time-and-motion techniques for studies in health services research.

Author information

  • 1Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study compares results and illustrates trade-offs between work-sampling and time-and-motion methodologies.

DATA SOURCES:

Data are from time-and-motion measurements of a sample of medical residents in two large urban hospitals.

STUDY DESIGN:

The study contrasts the precision of work-sampling and time-and-motion techniques using data actually collected using the time-and-motion approach. That data set was used to generate a simulated set of work-sampling data points.

DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS:

Trained observers followed residents during their 24-hour day and recorded the start and end time of each activity performed by the resident. The activities were coded and then grouped into ten major categories. Work-sampling data were derived from the raw time-and-motion data for hourly, half-hourly, and quarter-hourly observations.

PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

The actual time spent on different tasks as assessed by the time-and-motion analysis differed from the percent of time projected by work-sampling. The work-sampling results differed by 20 percent or more of the estimated value for eight of the ten activities. As expected, the standard deviation decreases as work-sampling observations become more frequent.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings indicate that the work-sampling approach, as commonly employed, may not provide an acceptably precise approximation of the result that would be obtained by time-and-motion observations.

PMID:
8270422
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1069965
Free PMC Article
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