Longitudinal changes in nursing home leadership, direct care staff job strain and social support in Swedish nursing homes-findings from the U-AGE SWENIS study

Int J Older People Nurs. 2022 Nov 14;e12515. doi: 10.1111/opn.12515. Online ahead of print.


Background: Promoting healthy work environment as a manager in nursing homes is important to safeguard staff health and well-being as well as care quality when facing increasing demands. The impact of leadership on staff work environment needs further exploration.

Objectives: To describe longitudinal changes in nursing home leadership, direct care staff characteristics, job strain and social support.

Methods: This study has a repeated cross-sectional design, a five-year follow-up study. Nursing home staff in 181 corresponding units (n = 1253 in 2014 and n = 1176 in 2019) completed surveys about leadership, staff job strain and social support in a five-year follow-up study. Descriptive and regression analyses were conducted.

Results: A higher degree of leadership defined by coaching and providing direct feedback to care staff, handling conflicts in a constructive way and having control of the clinical work, was significantly associated with a lower degree of job strain and a higher degree of social support among staff, with stronger associations at follow-up. The proportion of enrolled nurses increased significantly at follow-up.

Conclusions: Leadership is increasingly important for staff work environment, especially in times of increased workload and decreasing collegiality and deteriorating work atmosphere at work.

Implications for practice: Stakeholder and policy makers in nursing home care may reflect on how managers' leadership is prioritised in these environments because such leadership is associated with staff job strain and social support. Managers striving to improve the work situation of staff may consider their own role and allow flexibility in how and when the work can be performed.

Keywords: job strain; leadership; management; social support; stress.