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Empowering leadership, perceived organizational support, trust, and job burnout for nurses: A study in an Italian general hospital

Bobbio, Andrea; Bellan, Maria; Manganelli, Anna Maria

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e31822242b2

Background: A strong nursing leadership that instills trust in the leader and in the organization is an important component for an effective leadership, particularly for health care organizations, because trust defines the heart of health care workplaces by promoting patient safety, excellence in care, recruitment, and retention of the nursing staff.

Purpose: This study aimed to test the impact of perceived empowerment leadership style expressed by the nurse supervisor, nurses’ perceived organizational support, trust in the leader, and trust in the organization on nurses’ job burnout.

Methodology/Approach: A group of 273 nurses from an Italian public general hospital took part in a cross-sectional study on a voluntary basis by filling out an anonymous questionnaire.

Findings: Empowering leadership was an important predictor of trust in the leader. Trust in the organization was influenced by perceived organizational support and by the Informing dimension of the empowering leadership style. Trust in the leader and trust in the organization showed a negative impact on job burnout and also mediated the effects of some empowering leadership dimensions and perceived organizational support on job burnout.

Practice Implications: The central role of trust in health care organizations was corroborated, as well as the beneficial effects of adopting specific features of empowerment leadership behaviors toward the nursing staff. Empowering leadership could be successfully proposed in training programs directed to nurses’ supervisors and health care managers.

Andrea Bobbio, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Applied Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy. E-mail:

Maria Bellan, MSc, is Research Assistant, Department of Applied Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

Anna Maria Manganelli, MSc, is Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Applied Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

The study reported in this work was carried out with funds from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, quota ex 60% 2005, code 60A17-3301/05.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.