Hospital organizational features related to registered nurses' (RNs') practice environment are often studied using quantitative measures. These are however unable to capture nuances of experiences of the practice environment from the perspective of individual RNs. The aim of this study is therefore to investigate individual RNs' experiences of their work situation in cancer care in Swedish acute care hospitals.
This study is based on a qualitative framework analysis of data derived from an open-ended question by 200 RNs working in specialized or general cancer care hospital units, who responded to the Swedish RN4CAST survey on nurse work environment. Antonovsky's salutogenic concepts "meaningfulness", "comprehensibility", and "manageability" were applied post-analysis to support interpretation of results.
RNs describe a tension between expectations to uphold safe, high quality care, and working in an environment where they are unable to influence conditions for care delivery. A lacking sense of agency, on individual and collective levels, points to organizational factors impeding RNs' use of their competence in clinical decision-making and in governing practice within their professional scope.
RNs in this study appear to experience work situations which, while often described as meaningful, generally appear neither comprehensible nor manageable. The lack of an individual and collective sense of agency found here could potentially erode RNs' sense of meaningfulness and readiness to invest in their work.