The 'switch on-switch off model': Strategies used by nurses to mentally prepare and disengage from work

G. Manomenidis, E. Panagopoulou, A. Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There is considerable research on the experience of nurses during both their work and non-work time. However, we know relatively little about the strategies nurses use immediately before and immediately after their shift. This crossover period, from one shift to another, has critical impact for patient outcomes. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore strategies nurses employ to mentally prepare for their shift (switch on), and mentally disengage after the end of it (switch off).

Eleven Greek hospital nurses were recruited for the study. Interviews were audio-taped and analysed using a content analysis approach.

Five themes were identified as strategies nurses use to mentally prepare and disengage from their shift: (i) personal care/grooming; (ii) religious rituals; (iii) nicotine/caffeine; (iv) social interaction; and (v) listening to music. Nurses reported using the same strategies before and after their shift, but for different purposes.

The authors propose a ‘switch on–switch off’ model to describe the process of mental preparation and mental disengagement from work. The switch-on/off approach represents an opportunity to increase nurses' resilience and identify individual and organizational factors that contribute to patient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-363
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Practice
Issue number4
Early online date7 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


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