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The Influence of Interpersonal Relationships on Nurse Managers’ Work Engagement and Proactive Work Behavior

Warshawsky, Nora E. PhD, RN; Havens, Donna S. PhD, RN, FAAN; Knafl, George PhD

Journal of Nursing Administration: September 2012 - Volume 42 - Issue 9 - p 418–425
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0b013e3182668129

OBJECTIVE: This study tested the effects of interpersonal relationships on nurse managers’ work engagement and proactive work behavior.

BACKGROUND: An engaged workforce may help healthcare organizations improve performance. In healthcare, nurse managers are responsible for creating motivating work environments. They also need to be engaged, yet little is known about what influences nurse managers’ performance.

METHODS: A self-administered electronic survey was used to collect data from 323 nurse managers working in acute care hospitals. Instruments included the Relational Coordination Scale, Utrecht Work Engagement Scale, and Proactive Work Behavior Scale.

RESULTS: Interpersonal relationships with nurse administrators were most predictive of nurse managers’ work engagement. Interpersonal relationships with physicians were most predictive of nurse managers’ proactive work behavior.

CONCLUSION: Organizational cultures that foster quality interpersonal relationships will support the job performance of nurse managers.

Author Affiliations: Assistant Professor (Dr Warshawsky), College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington; Professors (Drs Havens and Knafl), School of Nursing, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This study was partially funded by grant T32NR008856 from the National Institute of Nursing Research. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Warshawsky, 557 College of Nursing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536-0232 (

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© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.