Mental health nurses' perspectives of empowerment and job satisfaction: a quantitative perspective
Breland, Nadine Kirsten
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ABSTRACT A descriptive correlation study design, directed within the conceptual framework of Kanter’s (1977, 1993) Structural Theory of Organizational Behavior, examined mental health nurses’ perceptions of empowerment and job satisfaction. Empowering work settings are both necessary and critical since nurses need to be empowered to fulfill their role within the standards espoused by the nursing profession and to meet the challenges of a dynamic and evolving healthcare system that is flooded with service delivery demands. Empowerment within the workplace can result in job satisfaction which is essential given that empowerment and job satisfaction can lead to positive outcomes such as, quality patient care and professional autonomy. Furthermore, nurses’ job satisfaction has a significant effect on patients’ satisfaction with nursing care and overall patients’ satisfaction with their hospital care. Mental health nurses’ views regarding empowerment and job satisfaction are underrepresented in the literature. The purpose of this research was to describe the nurses’ perceptions of these variables and to further shed light on their perspectives. Fifty-five mental health nurses who were employed within an acute in-patient mental health program were recruited for the study. Four questionnaires, Conditions of Work Effectiveness, Job Activities Scale, Organizational Relationship Scale and the McCloskey/Mueller Satisfaction Scale were employed to determine nurses’ perceptions of the variables of empowerment and job satisfaction. A validation index was included to measure global empowerment. To test the first hypothesis, multiple linear regression was undertaken to determine the productive relationship of formal and informal power on perceptions of job empowerment. A Spearman’s rank-order correlation was used to assess the second hypothesis with regard to the magnitude of the relationship between empowerment and job satisfaction variables. P-values less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant. The hypotheses were as postulated, mental health nurses’ perceptions of formal and informal power were related to their perceptions of workplace empowerment, with formal power being more significant. Moreover, empowerment and job satisfaction were positively correlated. Similar to other research settings which were highlighted within the literature review, mental health nurses were moderately empowered and moderately satisfied within their work setting. Utilizing Kanter’s (1977, 1993) Structural Theory of Organizational Behavior as a guide can assist administrators in creating empowering work environments that can facilitate job satisfaction for mental health nurses. The presence of empowering and satisfying work conditions are vital within the specialty of mental health nursing if nursing care of the mentally ill patient is to be maximized and nurses are to reach their professional goal of providing quality patient care. Limitations to this research include the small sample size and the convenience sample methodology. Recommendations for further research involve surveying mental health nurses from other hospital sites and incorporating a qualitative viewpoint.