Nurses Work Engagement in Medical-Surgical Services in Portugal

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 8:50 AM

Aida Cruz Mendes, PhD, MsC, RN, MsC
Unidade de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde: enfermagem, Health Science Research Unit: nursing, Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

Background: Work engagement may be defined as a persistent, positive, work-related affective-cognitive state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption. Studies have shown that the organizations with high levels of engagement among their employees usually have better quantitative and qualitative results, as well as higher levels of satisfaction, health and well-being of their clients and employees. Nevertheless, broader studies are still required, particularly in the nursing field.

Objective: To describe the perception of the nurses of medical-surgical services of Portuguese hospitals regarding the work engagement levels and their association with some socio-demographic and professional variables.

Material and Methods: A cross-sectional, analytical, observational, quantitative study was conducted with a sample of 2235 nurses of adult medical-surgical services of 31 Portuguese Hospitals. Data were collected using the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) and a socio-demographic questionnaire, and analyzed using analytical and descriptive statistics.

Results: The participants showed mean levels of engagement; however, different levels were found between regions, hospitals and services. A clear difference in age, professional experience and gender was also observed. Female nurses showed significantly higher levels of work engagement (p≤0.01), as well as individuals at the extremes of the age groups and professional experience.

Conclusion: Despite the high mean levels of engagement, the differences observed between regions, hospitals and services reveal the importance of organizational conditions in explaining this phenomenon. On the other hand, given that this sample was mostly composed of females and that the critical years to decrease engagement coincide with the life stages in which there may be more conflicts regarding to the performance of familiar and professional roles, the clear differences in age, professional experience and gender regarding the levels of engagement should receive special attention from the various institutions providing nursing care and the leaders of the profession. Longitudinal studies on cases of success/failure and in other care settings should be developed.