Ontario nurses do not feel respected by hospital management

More than 50 per cent of Ontario nurses do not feel respected by hospital management for their contribution to health care delivery, a new study from The University of Western Ontario reveals.

The study, based on a questionnaire completed by 285 randomly selected staff nurses from Ontario teaching hospitals, shows more than half the respondents felt their managers did not show concern or deal with them in a sensitive and truthful manner regarding decisions affecting their job. Nurses were asked to agree or disagree with statements such as “Manager treats me with respect” and “Manger offers explanation of decisions.” Only 38 per cent of those surveyed agreed with the statement, “I receive respects from my superiors.”

“It was shocking to see the data,” says Heather Laschinger, the study’s principal investigator, professor of nursing and Associate Director, Nursing Research in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western.

Though nurses often state they do not feel respected for their contribution to health care, Laschinger says there was little empirical research on this phenomenon.

The study shows feelings of disrespect were associated with stress caused by lack of recognition, poor interpersonal relationships in the workplace, and heavy workload.

“There are now fewer nurses looking after sicker patients,” Laschinger says. “If the work environment doesn’t improve there’s a chance we’ll lose the nurses already in the system and won’t be able to attract new people into the profession.” Mid 40s is the average age of nurses in Canada and nurses have one of the highest absenteeism rates related to illness in the country, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information.

“Feeling respected on the job is associated with commitment to the job, job satisfaction and lower stress,” Laschinger says. The nurses who felt respected had a sense of fair treatment by their managers, access to information, support, resources required to accomplish their work and opportunities to learn and grow. “Most of these are basic things that don’t cost a lot of money,” she says.

Regular meetings where nurses have the chance to be involved in the decision making process, and other forms of communication such as internal Web sites that provide information and invite participation, are examples of simple changes that can be made to demonstrate respect for nurses’ well-being, Laschinger says.

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