The results of a pilot time-and-motion study in three Australian hospitals: where do we spend our time?
Aim: To quantify the time nine dietitians spend on different tasks in the inpatient setting and to describe the main dietetic goals for the patients managed. Methods: We used a direct non-participatory observational method and observed hospital dietitians during a typical work shift. The data were then sorted into six categories. Results: A total of 286 hours and 45 minutes was observed across two collection time periods. On average the dietitians spent 18.3% in direct patient contact, 40.4% on indirect patient support activities, 13.5% in administrative tasks, 4.5% in research and education, and 3.8% in travel and miscellaneous tasks. Dietetic goals of patients seen during this time, as defined by the dietitians, were: to increase energy intake (48%), decrease energy intake (3%), improve dietary knowledge (15%), to improve or manage clinical symptoms (7%) and to meet enteral or parenteral requirements (1%). Conclusions: Knowing how dietitians in the present study spend their time affords an opportunity to reflect on how these tasks contribute to the overall goals of the department. Furthermore, it provides baseline data for additional research into the area of dietetic work activities, which could be evaluated across a wider range of services and hospitals.