Work engagement and occupational stress in nurses and other healthcare workers: the role of organisational and personal factors

J Clin Nurs. 2013 Sep;22(17-18):2614-24. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12084. Epub 2013 Mar 29.


Aims and objectives: The aims of this study were to: (1) identify the role of organisational and personal factors in predicting work engagement in healthcare workers and (2) compare work engagement and occupational stress perceptions of healthcare professional categories.

Background: Healthcare professionals, with particular regard to nurses, are exposed to several job stressors that can adversely affect both their mental and physical health and also decrease work engagement. Work engagement can be considered as the positive opposite of burnout, and it is characterised by energy, involvement and professional efficacy.

Design: A cross-sectional survey research was conducted with self-report questionnaires.

Methods: The Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey, the Areas of Worklife Scale and four scales from the Occupational Stress Indicator were administered to a sample of 198 hospital staff (registered nurses, nurse aides, physicians and physiotherapists), of which 110 participated in the study.

Results: The most significant predictors of energy were workload, mental health and job satisfaction; the best predictors of involvement were community, workload, mental health and job satisfaction; professional efficacy was best predicted by values and job satisfaction. In relation to the second aim, physiotherapists had the highest levels of occupational stress and disengagement from their work, while nurse aides were the most work-engaged and job-satisfied professional category, with positive perceptions of the work environment.

Conclusions: Both organisational and personal factors were found to be significantly associated with work engagement. In this study, physiotherapists were the category with the highest risk of work-related psychological problems, whereas nurse aides had the lowest risk.

Relevance to clinical practice: Interventions aimed at improving clinical practice and psychological health of nurses and hospital staff should focus on workload, workers' personal expectations and job satisfaction.

Keywords: burnout; healthcare workers; nurses; occupational stress; organisational factors; personal factors; work engagement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires