• caring orientation;
  • nurses’ health;
  • observations;
  • patient-centred care;
  • questionnaire;
  • role


Title. Patient-centred care and nurses’ health: the role of nurses’ caring orientation.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study of the moderating effect of caring orientation on the relationship of patient-centred care to nurses’ physical and mental health.

Background.  Providing effective patient-centred care is well-accepted as an important contributor to a host of patients’ health outcomes. Based on two theoretical perspectives – person–environment fit and emotional labour – I suggest that providing patient-centred care per se does not potentially harm nurses’ health; the cause is the fit (or non-fit) of a nurse’s caring orientation and the displayed patient-centred care behaviours.

Method.  Data were collected in 2007 with a random sample of 325 registered nurses working in the Israeli public healthcare sector in in-patient units. Caring orientation, health and control variables were measured via validated questionnaires. Patient-centred care behaviours were assessed by structured observations.

Results.  The mental health of nurses who exhibited high caring orientation combined with high patient-centred care, or that of nurses who exhibited low caring orientation combined with low patient-centred care, was statistically significantly higher in comparison with the mental health of nurses who exhibited incongruent (low/high or high/low) caring orientation and patient-centred care behaviours. For nurses’ physical health, the findings revealed that providing patient-centred care was associated with worsened health, and possessing a caring orientation was associated with better health.

Conclusions.  The findings support the hypotheses that were derived from person–environment fit and emotional labour only with regard to mental health. Separate theory needs to be developed on how to maintain nurses’ physical health.