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Am J Prev Med. 2009 Aug;37(2 Suppl):S165-71. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.05.005.

Do you need to smoke to get a break?: smoking status and missed work breaks among staff nurses.

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School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-6918, USA.



The prevalence of missed work breaks by smoking status in healthcare settings is unknown. The work routines of nurses (Registered Nurses [RNs] and Licensed Practical Nurses [LPNs]), who smoke at higher rates than other health professionals, may be influenced by smokers who use breaks to avoid nicotine withdrawal. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between nurses' smoking status and work breaks and to explore the relationships among personal, professional, and workplace variables associated with missed work breaks.


A web-based survey of 2589 staff nurses from 34 hospitals was conducted in 2006. Each hospital had been designated as a Magnet hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Data analysis included descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, and multivariate logistic regression.


The majority (90%) were nonsmokers; 97% were RNs. Missed breaks were common (70%) and differed by smoking status: 59% of smokers and 72% of nonsmokers frequently missed work breaks. Multivariate logistic regression determined that nonsmokers (OR=1.81, 95% CI=1.36, 2.42), LPNs (OR=2.37, 95% CI=1.16, 4.84), older nurses (OR 1.02, 95% CI=1.01, 1.03), those in emergency rooms (OR=1.75, 95% CI=1.25, 2.47), and in intensive care units (OR=1.60, 95% CI=1.22, 2.09) were more likely to miss breaks.


Missed work breaks were common among nurses. Those who did not smoke were almost twice as likely to miss their work breaks as compared to smokers. Inequities in breaks, especially by smoking status, may cause dissension in the workplace and negatively affect patient care. Policies that support work breaks for all nurses are needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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