Head nurse leadership style with staff nurse burnout and job satisfaction in neonatal intensive care units

Nurs Res. Mar-Apr 1984;33(2):97-101.


Leadership style has been defined as a two-factor construct composed of "consideration" and "initiating structure." Research has suggested that these factors affect the behavior and attitude of subordinates. This study's purpose was to quantify the relationships of head nurse leadership style with self-reported staff nurse burnout and job satisfaction in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). Three instruments--the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire, the Tedium Scale, and the Leadership Opinion Questionnaire--were voluntarily completed by 283 registered nurses employed by 14 level-III NICUs in the United States. The leadership dimensions of consideration and structure were distinct (r = -.10). Staff nurse satisfaction and burnout were related (r = -.41). Head nurse consideration was clearly related to staff nurse satisfaction (r = -.55) and to a lesser extent to burnout (r = -.29). Initiating structure alone was not related to satisfaction or burnout. Aggregate perceptions of head nurse leadership were ranked across NICUs in order to classify the head nurses on consideration and structure. The 14 head nurses were separated into four groups: high consideration-high structure, high consideration-low structure, low consideration-high structure, and low consideration-low structure. Satisfaction and burnout of staff nurses in each of the leadership-style groups were then compared. Analysis of variance for satisfaction (F(3,279) = 3.10, p = .03) and burnout (F(3,279) = 3.90, p = .01) were both significant. For both satisfaction and burnout, the head nurse leadership classification of low consideration-high structure was most deviant.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Leadership*
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology*
  • Nursing, Supervisory / methods*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States