Nurse leaders’ perceptions of workload and task distribution in public healthcare: A qualitative explorative study

Mikaela Miller, Jessica Hemberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

63 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Unreasonable workload and work-related stress can reduce nurse leaders' job satisfaction and productivity and can increase absence and burnout. Nurse leaders' workload in public healthcare settings is relatively unresearched.
The Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate nurse leaders' perceptions of workload and task distribution with relation to leading work tasks in public healthcare.
Research Design, Participants and Research Context: A qualitative explorative design was used. The data material consisted of texts from interviews with nurse leaders in public healthcare (N = 8). The method was inspired by content analysis. The COREQ checklist was used.
Ethical considerations: Informed consent was sought from the participants regarding study participation and the storage and handling of data for research purposes.
Findings: Six main themes were found: Increased and unreasonable workload, Length of work experience as nurse leader affects perception of workload, Number of staff and staff characteristics affect perception of workload, Versatile and flexible task distribution, Working overtime as a way of managing high workload and Insufficient time for leadership mission.
Conclusion: The workload for nurse leaders in a public healthcare setting was perceived to be unreasonable. Common measures for managing high workload included working overtime, delegating work tasks and organising more staff resources in the form of additional staff. How nurse leaders perceive their workload was linked to both the number of staff and staff characteristics. These should both be considered equally important when determining staff levels and measuring nurse leaders' workload. Future research should focus on investigating workload and task distribution from nurses' perspectives.
Relevance to Clinical Practice: Through this study, greater understanding of workload and the diverse work of nurse leaders in a public healthcare setting has been revealed, which can be used to further develop the framework for nurse leaders' work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • nursing leadership
  • nurses
  • workload
  • public healthcare
  • qualitative study
  • interviews


Dive into the research topics of 'Nurse leaders’ perceptions of workload and task distribution in public healthcare: A qualitative explorative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this