Job satisfaction and turnover intent of primary healthcare nurses in rural South Africa: a questionnaire survey

J Adv Nurs. 2011 Feb;67(2):371-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05496.x. Epub 2010 Nov 2.


Aim: This paper is a report of a correlational study of the relationships between demographic variables, job satisfaction, and turnover intent among primary healthcare nurses in a rural area of South Africa.

Background: Health systems in Southern Africa face a nursing shortage fuelled by migration, but research on job satisfaction and turnover intent of primary healthcare nurses remains poorly described.

Method: A cross-sectional study with survey design was conducted in 2005 in all local primary healthcare clinics, including nurses on duty at the time of visit (n = 143). Scale development, anova, Spearman's rank correlation, and logistic regression were applied.

Results: Nurses reported satisfaction with work content and coworker relationships and dissatisfaction with pay and work conditions. Half of all nurses considered turnover within two years, of whom three in ten considered moving overseas. Job satisfaction was statistically significantly associated with unit tenure (P < 0·05), professional rank (P < 0·01) and turnover intent (P < 0·01). Turnover intent was statistically significantly explained by job satisfaction, age and education (P < 0·001), with younger and higher educated nurses being more likely to show turnover intent. Satisfaction with supervision was the only facet significantly explaining turnover intent when controlling for age, education, years of nursing and unit tenure (P < 0·001).

Conclusion: Strategies aimed at improving job satisfaction and retention of primary healthcare nurses in rural South Africa should rely not only on financial rewards and improved work conditions but also on adequate human resource management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Educational Status
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses / psychology
  • Nursing Administration Research
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Nursing Staff / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nursing Staff / supply & distribution
  • Personnel Loyalty
  • Personnel Turnover / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Rural Health Services*
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Young Adult