A1 Journal article (refereed)
Illegitimate tasks in health care : illegitimate task types and associations with occupational well‐being (2021)

Kilponen, K., Huhtala, M., Kinnunen, U., Mauno, S., & Feldt, T. (2021). Illegitimate tasks in health care : illegitimate task types and associations with occupational well‐being. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 30(13-14), 2093-2106. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocn.15767

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Kilponen, Kiia; Huhtala, Mari; Kinnunen, Ulla; Mauno, Saija; Feldt,Taru

Journal or series: Journal of Clinical Nursing

ISSN: 0962-1067

eISSN: 1365-2702

Publication year: 2021

Publication date: 07/04/2021

Volume: 30

Issue number: 13-14

Pages range: 2093-2106

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jocn.15767

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/75059


Aims and objectives
The aims of the study were to identify content categories of unreasonable and unnecessary illegitimate tasks and to investigate how unreasonable and unnecessary tasks relate to occupational wellbeing.

Illegitimate tasks are a common stressor among healthcare professionals, and they have been shown to have negative associations with occupational well‐being. Despite this evidence, research has not yet uncovered what kinds of tasks healthcare professionals consider illegitimate.

Design and method
The data gathered by means of an online survey consisted of 1024 municipal healthcare organisation employees. A theory‐driven qualitative content analysis was used to analyse freely reported illegitimate tasks. For occupational well‐being associations, a mixed‐methods approach was used (ANCOVA and linear regression analysis). The STROBE statement—checklist for cross‐sectional studies was used.

Eight content categories were found for illegitimate tasks. For unreasonable tasks, these were (1) tasks outside one's occupational role (78% of all unreasonable tasks), (2) conflicting or unclear demands (9%), (3) tasks with insufficient resources (8%) and (4) tasks with difficult consequences (5%), and for unnecessary tasks, these were (1) impractical or outdated working habits (31% of all unnecessary tasks), (2) tasks related to dysfunctional technology (30%), (3) unnecessary procedures (27%) and (4) tasks related to bureaucratic demands (12%). Unreasonable and unnecessary tasks were associated with higher levels of burnout and lower work engagement and the meaningfulness of work.

Our findings support the theory that illegitimate tasks are an occupational stressor with negative effects on burnout, work engagement and meaningfulness of work.

Relevance to clinical practice
The study offers insights into the types of tasks health care employees see as illegitimate and highlights the importance of good job design in promoting occupational well‐being in health care.

Keywords: nursing (work); work content; well-being at work; exhaustion; meaningfulness; tasks; health care personnel

Free keywords: burnout; illegitimate tasks; meaningfulness of work; nurses; work engagement

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:49