Aims. This paper reports a study which aimed to: (1) investigate the relationship between nurses’ commitment to the nursing profession and organization and their intention to leave; (2) investigate nurses’ perceptions of the possibility of acquiring severe acute respiratory syndrome infection and its moderation of their commitment to the nursing profession and the organization and their consequent intentions to leave the profession and the organization following the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.
Background. The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 resulted in a fatality rate of approximately 11%. Nurses in hospitals caring for patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome maintained close contact with the infected patients. The high risk of infection and death associated with caring for patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome had a great impact on nurse retention in hospitals. Nurse turnover in many countries where these outbreaks occurred has been high since the first outbreak occurred in March 2003.
Methods. Three hundred and thirty nurses working at a Taiwan hospital during the time of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak completed the Meyer, Allen & Smith Organizational and Occupational Commitment Scales, Intention to Leave and Perceived Stress of Infection Scales between July and August 2003.
Results. All three components of occupational and organizational commitments were negatively associated with nurses’ intentions to leave the nursing profession and the organization. Nurses’ perceptions of the possibility of acquiring severe acute respiratory syndrome infection through caring for these patients had a moderating effect on the relationship between commitment and the intention to leave.
Conclusions. Perceived risk to life from infection has a possible influence on the commitment/intention-to-leave model in hospital nurses caring for patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome, and this information can inform hospital and nursing managers about nurse retention following a severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak and the management of commitment in the context of nursing human resources management.