Reorganization of nurses' work has raised questions about the effects of working conditions on their health. Nurses, for example, are more likely to miss work because of illness and disability than employees in other occupations. The overall purpose of this descriptive study was to investigate the feasibility of using existing Statistics Canada surveys regularly to describe and monitor the health and working conditions of nurses. Our findings identified significant limitations in existing Statistics Canada surveys, for the study of nurses, including nonspecific or no occupational coding, small samples and partial content related to the work environment. As a result, some estimates would need to be accompanied by statements indicating that the findings do not meet quality standards and that the conclusions would be unreliable and most likely invalid. Additional data are required for a comprehensive assessment of the health status of nurses and the work environment factors that influence their health. These data can be obtained through several vehicles, including using oversampling strategies for extant and recurring Statistics Canada surveys, adding additional content to those surveys or implementing new surveys specific to nurses and their work. The authors describe the advantages and disadvantages of each of these approaches and conclude that monitoring the health and work environment of nurses in Canada in sufficient detail to inform policy decisions requires a dedicated national survey.
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