Job conditions, job satisfaction, somatic complaints and burnout among East African nurses

J Clin Nurs. 2012 Jun;21(11-12):1763-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03995.x. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Aims: To describe job conditions, job satisfaction, somatic complaints and burnout of female East African nurses working in public and private hospitals and to determine how these well-being outcomes are associated with job conditions.

Background: Insight into job conditions, health and well-being status and their interrelation is virtually lacking for East African nurses.

Design: Cross-sectional survey of 309 female nurses in private and public hospitals in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Methods: Nurses completed a survey assessing job conditions and job satisfaction (the Leiden Quality of Work Life Questionnaire-nurses version), somatic complaints (subscale of the Symptom CheckList) and burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory).

Results: The East African nurses show high levels of somatic complaints, and nearly one-third of the sample would be labelled as burned out. In comparison with a Western European nurses reference group, the nurses score unfavourably on job conditions that require financial investment (e.g. workload, staffing, equipment and materials). On aspects related to the social climate (e.g. decision latitude, cooperation), however, they score more favourably. In comparison with private hospital nurses, public hospital nurses score similarly on aspects related to the social climate, but worse on the other job conditions. Public hospital nurses have a lower job satisfaction than private hospital nurses, but show comparable levels of somatic complaints and burnout. Strongest correlates of low job satisfaction are low supervisor support and low financial reward. Burnout is mainly associated with high workload and inadequate information provision, whereas somatic complaints are associated with demanding physical working conditions.

Conclusions: Improvement in job conditions may reduce the high levels of burnout and somatic complaints and enhance job satisfaction in East African nurses.

Relevance to clinical practice: Efforts and investments should be made to improve the job conditions in East African nurses as they are key persons in the delivery of health care.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Eastern
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Nurses / psychology*