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Relationship Between Staff Nurse Involvement in Organizational Structures and Perception of Empowerment

McDonald, Susan F. DNP, PMHCNS-BC; Tullai-McGuinness, Susan PhD, RN; Madigan, Elizabeth A. PhD, RN, FAAN; Shively, Marty PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/CNQ.0b013e3181d9123c

Work structures that empower nurses contribute to a healthy work environment yet there are few studies that have looked at the relationship between nurse participation in formal work structures and their perception of empowerment. Nurses involved in power-sharing activities demonstrate a greater commitment to the organization and have improved job satisfaction. To measure the perception of structural empowerment by nurses and examine the relationship between staff registered nurse participation in organizational structures and perceived structural empowerment. A descriptive correlational survey design was used to measure staff nurses' perception of structural empowerment, using the Conditions of Work Effectiveness Questionnaire-II (CWEQ-II). A purposive sample of staff registered nurses (N = 122) at a large Veterans Affairs urban teaching hospital was recruited to complete an online survey. The response rate was 33%. Nurses perceived a moderate amount of structural empowerment and a greater sense of empowerment in the areas of opportunity, support, and collaboration on the CWEQ-II. The total mean score for the CWEQ-II (M = 18.50, SD = 3.63) indicated a moderate amount of perceived structural empowerment. Of the 4 CWEQ-II subscales, opportunity (M = 3.78, SD = 0.87) was moderately high. Resources (M = 3.04, SD = 0.72) and support (M = 2.92, SD = 0.94) were rated as moderate, and participants rated information moderately low (M = 2.75, SD = 0.88). On 2 scales that measured sources of organizational power, informal power was moderately high (M = 3.37, SD = 0.79) compared with formal power (M = 2.64, SD = 0.81), which scored moderately low. In comparing nurses who participated in councils with those who did not, there were no significant differences in their total or subscale scores on the CWEQ-II. Of those who did participate in councils (n = 48, 39.3%), the number of council meetings nurses attended correlated significantly with support (r = 0.37, P = .009). The percentage of time council members communicated information to their peers at the unit level correlated positively with informal power (r = 0.30, P = .04). Organizational structures that provide opportunities for nurses to participate in professional matters that are important to them support empowerment that is essential for a healthy work environment.

Psychiatry & ADTP (Dr McDonald) and Nursing Service for Research (Dr Shively), VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, California; and Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (Drs Tullai-McGuinness and Madigan).

Corresponding Author: Susan F. McDonald, DNP, PMHCNS-BC, Psychiatry & ADTP, VA San Diego Healthcare System, 3350 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92161 (

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.