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Understanding Determinants of Nurses’ Intentions to Remain Employed in Canadian Hospitals

Study Overview

In this study, we focus on the growing general problem of an inadequate supply of RNs working in Canadian acute care hospitals. Our assumption is that retention of nurses in the health care workforce is a desirable goal to manage the problem of an inadequate supply of acute care hospital nurses over the upcoming years. Our premise is that developing and implementing appropriate strategies that strengthen nurses’ intentions to remain employed in their acute care hospitals rather than terminating their hospital employment before the normal age of retirement (65 years) is essential to promote an adequate supply of RNs. We also suggest that strategies that best promote nurse retention will be different for nurses in different generations. Each generation varies in their values, goals, priorities, attitudes, expectations, and perceptions of work. Currently there are four generations of nurses in the health services workforce:

  1. The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945),
  2. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964),
  3. Generation X (born 1965-1979), and
  4. Generation Y (born 1980-2000) (Santos et al., 2003).

Study Purpose

The overall purpose of this research is twofold:

  1. To develop, test and refine theory about the determinants of Canadian nurses’ intentions to remain employed in their current acute care hospital employment, and
  2. To identify appropriate strategies for different generations of nurses in the hospital workforce that will strengthen their intentions to remain employed in their current hospital positions.

Study Phases

Phase I (Now complete)

The first phase involved focus group discussions with registered nurses working in acute care hospitals regarding what work-related factors, life circumstances, and external factors encouraged them to remain in their current hospital role and discouraged them from leaving their job.

Phase II (Now complete)

In phase 2, a nurse survey was developed based on findings from phase 1 focus groups and previous research literature. The survey was mailed to a sample of Registered Nurses working in acute care hospitals in Ontario and Alberta. Responses to the survey were used to test and refine theory about what encourages nurses to remain in their hospital employment.

If you are a participant and would like to review the information letter for this phase of the study, please click here: Phase 2 Information Letter

If you would like to view the nurse survey instrument, please click here: Phase 2 Nurse Survey

Phase III (Now complete)

In phase 3, hospital nurses and health care decision and policy makers will be invited to a series of information sessions to validate and interpret findings from phases 1 and 2, and to identify key strategies that should be implemented to strengthen nurses’ intentions to remain employed in their current hospital jobs and discourage them from early voluntary termination before the normal age of retirement.

Research Team

The study is being conducted by a team of researchers: Ann Tourangeau and Lisa Cranley from the University of Toronto and Greta Cummings from the University of Alberta. The study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and has received ethical approval from the University of Toronto Health Sciences I Research Ethics Board and the University of Alberta Health Research Ethics Board.


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