Professional and Team Identity Buffer Effects of Workplace Environment and Bullying on Burnout in Nurses
Kay, Rachael E.
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Stressful workplace environments and workplace bullying are associated with burnout, but it is unclear why some nurses are more likely to experience burnout than others when exposed to similar environmental variables. Shared goals and motivations about the meaning of work are identified as important to burnout development in the Existential Model of Burnout and may be the result of identification with the nursing profession and identification with one’s team of coworkers, as supported by the Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behaviour. The purpose of this study was to determine whether professional identification and team identification buffered the effects of stressful aspects of the nursing practice environment and workplace bullying on burnout among Registered Nurses (RNs) practicing in acute care settings. RNs (n=1940) from a large Midwestern city were randomly selected to receive an invitation by mail to participate in an online survey that included measures of the nursing practice environment, workplace bullying, professional identification, team identification, and burnout. A modified Dillman’s Tailored Response Method was used in subject recruitment. Hierarchical linear models were used to examine moderator effects of professional and team identification. Of those who elected to participate, 72 RNs met the inclusion criteria of active RN licensure, residing within the city, and working primarily in clinical RN roles in acute care inpatient hospital settings. Strong professional identification buffered the effects of inadequate staffing and collegial nurse-physician relationships on burnout. Strong team identification was not a moderator, but directly predicted lower burnout. Workplace bullying and nurse manager ability also had direct effects on burnout. Professional and team identification play important roles in whether acute care nurses experience burnout. The importance of strong nurse managers and prevention of workplace bullying cannot be overstated. As a result of these conclusions, there are four intervention targets: (1) strengthening and maintaining nurses’ professional identification; (2) strengthening and maintaining team identification and the shared goals and motivations held by team members; (3) ongoing development of nurse managers with strong management abilities, leadership skills and focus on the support of nurses; and (4) prevention and quick resolution of workplace bullying.