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Signed social structure optimization for shift assignment in the nurse scheduling problem


  • Farasat, Alireza
  • Nikolaev, Alexander G.


This paper develops a mathematical framework that relies on modern social network analysis theories for treating the nurse team formation and nurse scheduling (shift assignment) problems, accounting for signed social connections. These problems lie in assigning nurses to teams/shifts such that the constraints regarding both the working regulations and nurses preferences are satisfied. Recent research indicates the dependence of nursing team performance on team social structure; however, so far, the social structure considerations have not been explicitly incorporated into the mathematical formulations of the nurse scheduling problem. The presented framework introduces models that quantitatively exploit such dependence. This paper explores instances of Nurse Team Formation Problem (NTFP) and Nurse Scheduling Problem (NSP) incorporating signed social structure with the measures based on such network structures as edges, full dyads, triplets, k-stars, balanced and unbalanced triangles, etc., in directed, signed networks. The paper presents the integer programming formulations for NTFP and NSP, and a problem-specific heuristic that performs variable-depth neighborhood search to tackle NTFP instances with signed social structures. Computational results for a real-world problem instance with 20 nurses are reported. The insights obtained from the presented framework and future research directions are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Farasat, Alireza & Nikolaev, Alexander G., 2016. "Signed social structure optimization for shift assignment in the nurse scheduling problem," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 3-13.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceps:v:56:y:2016:i:c:p:3-13
    DOI: 10.1016/j.seps.2016.06.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Falasca, Mauro & Zobel, Christopher, 2012. "An optimization model for volunteer assignments in humanitarian organizations," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 250-260.
    2. A. Duenas & G.Y. Tütüncü & J.B. Chilcott, 2009. "A genetic algorithm approach to the nurse scheduling problem with fuzzy preferences," Post-Print hal-00575611, HAL.
    3. Dowsland, Kathryn A., 1998. "Nurse scheduling with tabu search and strategic oscillation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 106(2-3), pages 393-407, April.
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    5. Valouxis, Christos & Gogos, Christos & Goulas, George & Alefragis, Panayiotis & Housos, Efthymios, 2012. "A systematic two phase approach for the nurse rostering problem," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 219(2), pages 425-433.
    6. Jaumard, Brigitte & Semet, Frederic & Vovor, Tsevi, 1998. "A generalized linear programming model for nurse scheduling," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 1-18, May.
    7. Helsgaun, Keld, 2000. "An effective implementation of the Lin-Kernighan traveling salesman heuristic," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 126(1), pages 106-130, October.
    8. Millar, Harvey H. & Kiragu, Mona, 1998. "Cyclic and non-cyclic scheduling of 12 h shift nurses by network programming," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 104(3), pages 582-592, February.
    9. Pattillo, Jeffrey & Youssef, Nataly & Butenko, Sergiy, 2013. "On clique relaxation models in network analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 226(1), pages 9-18.
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