The impact of role discrepancy on nurses' intention to quit their jobs

J Clin Nurs. 2006 Sep;15(9):1071-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2005.01508.x.


Aims and objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of role discrepancy on nurses' intention to quit their jobs.

Background: Nurses experience role discrepancy, which refers to incompatibility between the roles nurses desire and expect to take, and the roles they actually engage in at work. However, there is a paucity of information as to how this role discrepancy affects nurses' intention to quit their jobs.

Design: A correlational design was used to investigate the impact of role discrepancy on nurses' intention to quit their jobs.

Methods: A total of 346 Australian nurses participated in this study by completing questionnaires. The results were analysed by t-test, polynomial regression and response surface analysis.

Results: Nurses tended to experience role discrepancy, in particular, in decision making with hospital policies and provision of patient education. The overall results show that this role discrepancy contributes to nurses' intention to quit their jobs. Nurses' intention to quit their jobs also increased when they had a low desire to engage in nursing roles and when they only performed a few roles. When specific dimensions of nursing roles were examined, a role discrepancy in the use of nursing skills, such as participation in decision making and providing patient education and emotional support, had little impact on their turnover intention. On the contrary, a role discrepancy in task delegation practice showed a significant association with nurses' intention to leave their jobs.

Conclusions: Role discrepancy has been experienced by many nurses, and this discrepancy partially contributes to nurses' intention to quit their jobs.

Relevance to clinical practice: To reduce nursing turnover, it is important to create a work environment where nurses are inspired to engage in various nursing roles and their work desires are reinforced by existing work opportunities.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Burnout, Professional / etiology
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Clinical Competence
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hospitals, Public
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Models, Nursing
  • Models, Psychological
  • Nurse's Role / psychology*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / education
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Personnel Turnover* / statistics & numerical data
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data