OBJECTIVE: This study tested a multilevel model examining the effects of work-unit structural empowerment and social capital on perceptions of unit effectiveness and nurses’ ratings of patient care quality.
BACKGROUND: Structural empowerment and social capital are valuable resources for staff nurses that promote work effectiveness and high-quality patient care. No studies have examined social capital in nursing at the group level.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of 525 nurses in 49 nursing units in 25 acute care hospitals in Ontario was conducted to test the hypothesized multilevel model using structural equation modeling.
RESULTS: Both unit-level structural empowerment and social capital had significant effects on unit effectiveness (β = .05 and β = .29, P < .05, respectively). Unit-level predictors explained 87.5% of level 2 variance in individual nurses’ ratings of patient care quality.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides a better understanding of how unit-level structural empowerment and social capital affect both unit- and individual-level outcomes.