UABSON research team receives SNRS award

By Pareasa Rahimi

A University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing research team has received the Leadership in Research in Nursing and Health Authorship Award by Southern Nursing Research Society for the paper, “Using Item Response Theory to Develop a Shortened Practice Environment Scale of The Nursing Work Index,” published in Research in Nursing and Health in 2023. The award was presented at the SNRS conference in February.

Co-authors of the paper include alumni Aoyjai Montgomery, RN (PhD 2019); Caitlin Campbell, PhD (PhD 2022); and Pauline Swiger, PhD, RN, CNL, CMSRN (PhD 2017); as well as UABSON Professor Andres Azuero, PhD; and Professor and Rachel Z. Booth Endowed Chair in Nursing Patricia A. Patrician, PhD, RN, FAAN.

The paper examines questionnaire length for survey research and its impact on response rates, survey costs and data quality. The team specifically looks at the Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index, which measures the nursing practice environment including burnout, well-being and resilience. Recommendations for survey research suggest that questionnaires should contain fewer than 50 items or take less than 20 minutes for participants to complete. Longer questionnaires may result in an increased data collection time, higher data maintenance costs and greater participant response burden, potentially leading to a lower response rate and poor data quality. Using the Item Response Theory, the team identified a 20-item version of the PES-NWI, originally containing 31 survey questions. The shorter format maintains adequate validity and reliability properties while decreasing data collection burden and maintaining a similar factor structure to the original instrument.

“This is a very proud moment for me, but I didn’t work alone. I have been accompanied by wonderful collogues who worked so hard on this paper and many research projects with me,” Montgomery said. “This award means a lot to us because it shows that our work impacts the Southern Nursing Research Society and others, not only in the southern United States region, but worldwide, as the PES is a common tool that has been used since 1982 in over 30 countries.”

The paper is among Montgomery’s occupational health work focused on developing ways to improve working conditions for nurses. As a PhD student, Montgomery was a Jarman F. Lowder Endowed Scholarship recipient and mentored by Patrician. Following the completion of her PhD, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the School, working under Patrician studying nurse workforce concerns. She’s currently a nurse scientist and data analyst for the Department of Epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health, where she has the opportunity to support her fellow nurses and continue collaboration with Patrician.

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