March 2, 2020

Relationship between nurses’ work environment, professional quality of life

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

Authentic leadership was the Healthy Work Environment (HWE) standard that most significantly correlated with nurse burnout and was the strongest predictor of compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress in this study.

Nurses in four adult critical care units of a single facility were surveyed on the relationship between their professional quality of life and the HWE standards developed by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Of 219 nurses surveyed, 45% completed the survey.


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Authentic leadership, true collaboration, and effective decision-making were significantly associated with compassion satisfaction, indicating that lowered stress and increased job satisfaction can improve compassion satisfaction.

Authentic leadership was the only standard that was significantly associated with burnout, implying that nurse empowerment and strong leadership can decrease burnout.

Authentic leadership also had the strongest association with secondary traumatic stress, which is consistent with previous studies indicating that nurse leaders are central to a healthy work environment.

The researchers concluded that improving leadership should be a priority in units seeking to improve nurses’ professional quality of life.

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