The health of critical care nurse work environments has been shown to affect patient care outcomes as well as the job satisfaction and retention of registered nurses. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) Critical Care Nurse Work Environment Survey was first conducted in 2006 following the release of the AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining a Healthy Work Environment and was conducted again in 2008. This article reports the results of the third AACN Critical Care Nurse Work Environment Survey conducted in 2013.


To evaluate the current state of critical care nurse work environments.


A total of 8444 AACN members and constituents responded to an online survey.


The overall health of critical care nurses’ work environments has declined since 2008, as have nurses’ perceptions of the quality of care. Respondents rated their overall work environment and factors associated with healthy work environments including quality of patient care, staffing, communication and collaboration, respect, physical and mental safety, moral distress, nursing leadership, support for certification and continuing education, meaningful recognition, job satisfaction, and career plans. Although some factors improved, declines in any factors are a concern.


An increasing body of evidence has shown relationships between healthy nurse work environments and patient outcomes. The results of this 2013 survey identified areas in which the health of critical care nurse work environments needs attention and care, requiring the relentless true collaboration of everyone involved.

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