The effects of structural and psychological empowerment on perceived respect in acute care nurses


Heather K. Spence Laschinger
School of Nursing
The University of Western Ontario
London, ON


Background  The recruitment and retention crisis has catalyzed interest in workplace empowerment for nurses. Many nurses feel that they do not receive the respect they deserve in hospital settings; however, there are few systematic studies of respect for nurses.

Objective  The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between structural and psychological empowerment and their effects on hospital nurses’ perceptions of respect.

Method  A secondary analysis was conducted of data from a larger study of 500 randomly selected hospital staff nurses. A predictive, non-experimental survey design was used to test a hypothesized model derived from Kanter’s Work Empowerment Theory.

Results  Both structural and psychological variables were significant independent predictors of respect, although structural empowerment had considerably greater explanatory power.

Conclusions  The findings support Kanter’s theory. Hospital nurses who perceive themselves to be structurally and psychologically empowered are more likely to feel respected in the workplace.

Implications for nursing management  Changing workplace structures is within the mandate of nurse managers in their roles as advocates for and facilitators of high-quality care. Nurse managers have the influence and resources to facilitate empowering work conditions that can increase nurses’ feelings of being respected. In addition, promoting collaborative inter-professional and intra-professional relationships and assuring continuous support to nurses are particularly important strategies for building respect.