Emotional intelligence, performance, and retention in clinical staff nurses

Nurs Adm Q. 2009 Oct-Dec;33(4):310-6. doi: 10.1097/NAQ.0b013e3181b9dd5d.


Background: Emotional intelligence has been correlated with performance, retention, and organizational commitment in professions other than nursing. A 2006 pilot study provided the first evidence of a correlation between emotional intelligence and performance in clinical staff nurses. A follow-up study was completed, the purpose of which was to explore emotional intelligence, performance level, organizational commitment, and retention.

Methods: A convenience sample of 350 nurses in a large medical center in urban Hawaii participated in this study. This article reports the findings pertaining to the subset of 193 clinical staff nurses who responded. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test instrument was used to measure emotional intelligence abilities. Performance was defined as ranking on a clinical ladder. Commitment was scored on a Likert scale. The following variables measured retention: total years in nursing, years in current job, total years anticipated in current job, and total anticipated career length.

Conclusions: Emotional intelligence scores in clinical staff nurses correlated positively with both performance level and retention variables. Clinical staff nurses with higher emotional intelligence scores demonstrated higher performance, had longer careers, and greater job retention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Emotional Intelligence*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Hawaii
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / supply & distribution
  • Personnel Turnover / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychometrics
  • United States