Critical Demographic and Workplace Factors that Influence Work Engagement in Nursing Practice in Pennsylvania

Open Access
Baumgardner, Catherine Zavatsky
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 04, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Dissertation Advisor
  • Judith Ann Kolb, Committee Chair
  • Wesley Edward Donahue, Committee Member
  • Deirdre Mccaughey, Committee Member
  • Edgar Paul Yoder, Committee Member
  • nursing
  • work engagement
  • nursing practice
  • job satisfaction
  • UWES
The purpose of this study was to identify the critical demographic and workplace factors that influence work engagement in nursing practice in Pennsylvania. This study represents descriptive, correlational research (Morgan, Gliner, & Harmon, 2006, pp. 69-72). The definition of work engagement used for this research was “a positive work-related state of mind that is characterized by a three-factor structure characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption” (Schaufeli, & Bakker, 2004, p. 295). The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-17) was used to measure these factors. The Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire (MOAQ) was used to measure job satisfaction and turnover intention. Short-answer questions were used to gather information about job resources that positively and negatively affect work engagement, as well as the perceived availability of those resources. The dependent variable was work engagement, as defined by vigor, dedication, and absorption. The independent variables were demographics, factors related to the nursing position, and job satisfaction. Data were gathered online from nurses in the Pennsylvania State Nurses’ Association (PSNA) database using a 42-question survey, self-response questionnaire. Quantitative measures were analyzed using the SPSS explore program. Grounded theory qualitative analysis methods were used for short-answer responses (Auerbach & Silverstein, 2003). Two types of analysis were used to answer the research questions: (a) block multiple regression, and (b) grounded theory qualitative analysis. The results suggested that (a) job satisfaction is the single most important variable (based on beta values) in explaining variability in scores for the three dimensions of work engagement. Nurses reporting higher levels of job satisfaction also reported higher levels of absorption, vigor, and dedication. The regression analysis in this case showed that age is a significant independent variable for overall work engagement (β=.234), and specifically for the factors of absorption (β=.249) and dedication (β=.294). Because the significance figures are positive, they show that the older the respondent, the stronger the relationship between age and work engagement. The factors that respondents believed increase engagement were having an impact, team (strong relationship with their immediate peers, physicians and leadership), and variety (expanded job opportunities, uniqueness of the types of patients). The factors that decreased engagement were workload, lack of impact, and politics (internal). The resources most important for performing the job effectively were effective management, information/data, and continuing education. Respondents reported that these resources were only available about 50% of the time. Sixty percent of the respondents do not intend to leave their jobs in the coming year, while 40% were either unsure or definitely seeking a new position. The findings have implications for employers, educators, policy makers and scholars as ideas are evaluated for increasing the supply of nurses in the face of impending shortages. Those implications as well as recommendations for future research are discussed.