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Leadership Style and Patient Safety: Implications for Nurse Managers

Merrill, Katreena Collette PhD, RN

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: June 2015 - Volume 45 - Issue 6 - p 319–324
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000207

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between nurse manager (NM) leadership style and safety climate.

BACKGROUND: Nursing leaders are needed who will change the environment and increase patient safety. Hospital NMs are positioned to impact day-to-day operations. Therefore, it is essential to inform nurse executives regarding the impact of leadership style on patient safety.

METHODS: A descriptive correlational study was conducted in 41 nursing departments across 9 hospitals. The hospital unit safety climate survey and multifactorial leadership questionnaire were completed by 466 staff nurses. Bivariate and regression analyses were conducted to determine how well leadership style predicted safety climate.

RESULTS: Transformational leadership style was demonstrated as a positive contributor to safety climate, whereas laissez-faire leadership style was shown to negatively contribute to unit socialization and a culture of blame.

CONCLUSIONS: Nursing leaders must concentrate on developing transformational leadership skills while also diminishing negative leadership styles.

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Author Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

This study was funded in part by a grant from the Utah Organization of Nurse Leaders.

The author declares no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Merrill, College of Nursing, Brigham Young University, 432 Spencer Kimball Tower, Provo, UT 84602 (

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