Emotional intelligence: enhancing values-based practice and compassionate care in nursing

J Adv Nurs. 2013 Dec;69(12):2717-25. doi: 10.1111/jan.12161. Epub 2013 Apr 28.


Aims: This article reports on a study which examined the predictive relationship between emotional intelligence and the following programme outcomes for student nurses: clinical practice performance; academic performance and retention.

Background: In the context of concerns about a lack of compassionate care and amid calls for values-based selection procedures, emotional intelligence is emerging as a potential factor which might help the nursing profession to address some of these concerns.

Design: The study employed a longitudinal survey.

Methods: Student nurse applicants (n = 307) were asked to complete self-report scales to establish a total score and four subscores for emotional intelligence and these scores were matched to individual student's performance on the undergraduate programme. The scales were completed between June-September 2007 and performance data were collected up until January 2009.

Results: A significant predictive relationship was found between emotional intelligence and all three programme outcomes: practice performance; academic performance and retention, after controlling for prior academic achievement, age and gender. There was a zero Pearson correlation between prior academic attainment and overall emotional intelligence, indicating that both predict different outcomes.

Conclusions: Recruitment and selection procedures should consider emotional intelligence as a legitimate additional entrance criterion for student nurses and further research is required to examine the potential relationship between emotional intelligence and compassionate care.

Keywords: clinical practice; compassionate care; emotional intelligence; nursing students; values-based selection and recruitment.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emotional Intelligence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Students, Nursing / psychology*
  • Young Adult