Nurses’ productivity takes a hit when they become ‘addicted’ to using social media at work, a habit that distracts them from tasks at hand, a small study suggests.

Study co-author Asad Javed, from Hazara University in Mansehra, Pakistan, says nurses who choose to kill time by using social media at work have become a serious issue at hospitals and universities across that country.

This behavior causes frequent conflicts among nurses about the assignment of patient care duties, as well as arguments between nurses and patients, he added.

“One of the important reasons we conducted our research on nurses was the critical nature of their jobs, which require them to remain attentive,” Javed told Reuters Health in an email.

To assess relationships between social media use at work, distraction from job tasks and self-rated job performance, Javed’s team recruited nurses through Facebook groups last year.

Altogether, 461 nurses in 53 countries completed the anonymous survey, which included statements such as, “I lose my concentration during work when I hear the beep sound of notification on social networking site/application,” rated by the participant on a scale of 1 to 5.

The researchers found that increasing use of social media at work was associated with greater distraction and poorer job performance. However, nurses able to practice self-management could overcome the urge and focus on work, the study team reports in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

“Nurses, like the general population, are increasingly distracted by attention to social media,” said Cynda Rushton of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing’s Berman Institute of Bioethics in Baltimore, Maryland, who was not involved in the study.

“Nurses care for some of the most vulnerable people… When social media sites…shift their focus from their core work in ways that may harm their patients, higher standards are justified.”

In the paper, researchers warn the situation is even worse in public hospitals where nurses have unpredictable and inflexible working hours and heavy workloads.


REFERENCE: Javed et al: Evaluating the effects of social networking sites addiction, task distraction, and self‐management on nurses’ performance;