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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2008 Nov;52(10):1423-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2008.01781.x.

Job satisfaction or production? How staff and leadership understand operating room efficiency: a qualitative study.

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Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Health Services Research, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



How to increase efficiency in operating departments has been widely studied. However, there is no overall definition of efficiency. Supervisors urging staff to work efficiently may meet strong reactions due to staff believing that demands for efficiency means just stress at work. Differences in how efficiency is understood may constitute an obstacle to supervisors' efforts to promote it. This study aimed to explore how staff and leadership understand operating room efficiency.


Twenty-one members of staff and supervisors in an operating department in a Swedish county hospital were interviewed. The analysis was performed with a phenomenographic approach that aims to discover the variations in how a phenomenon is understood by a group of people.


Six categories were found in the understanding of operation room efficiency: (A) having the right qualifications; (B) enjoying work; (C) planning and having good control and overview; (D) each professional performing the correct tasks; (E) completing a work assignment; and (F) producing as much as possible per time unit. The most significant finding was that most of the nurses and assistant nurses understood efficiency as individual knowledge and experience emphasizing the importance of the work process, whereas the supervisors and physicians understood efficiency in terms of production per time unit or completing an assignment.


The concept 'operating room efficiency' is understood in different ways by leadership and staff members. Supervisors who are aware of this variation will have better prerequisites for defining the concept and for creating a common platform towards becoming efficient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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