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Leslie C. Hussey


Over one million inpatient falls with injury are reported across the United States annually resulting in harm which are consistently linked to the quality of nursing care delivery in acute inpatient settings. Learned helplessness (LH) emerges as a behavioral concept to consider among acute care nurses, specifically medical-surgical nurses, because the effects of LH may include an overall decrease in efforts, persistence, and learning due to the repeated exposure to the challenges of balancing complex patients and working environments. The purpose of this study, guided by Donabedian’s model, was to determine if there was a relationship between acute care nurses’ self-reported LH, nursing staffing ratios, nursing tenure, and medical-surgical patient fall rates. The sample included 117 medical-surgical nurses who completed the Learned Helplessness Scale. Secondary data from 9 medical-surgical units on fall incidence were collected for comparison from January 2018 through June 2019. Data were analyzed using the Pearson correlation coefficient and multiple linear regression. Results of the research study did not reveal significant relationships between fall incidence, LH, nurse staffing, or nurse experience. In the hospital setting, fall prevention initiatives are continuously evaluated for effectiveness. Future research to characterize the impact of fall incidence on bedside nurses remains important to gain more generalizable knowledge on the nurses’ perceived behavioral response to fall incidence and promote positive social change through the consideration of the nurses’ relationship to avoidable patient events.

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