• intention to leave;
  • nurses;
  • nursing shortage;
  • review;
  • turnover

chan z.c.y., tam w.s., lung m.k.y., wong w.y. & chau c.w. (2013) Journal of Nursing Management 21, 605–613

A systematic literature review of nurse shortage and the intention to leave

Aim  To present the findings of a literature review regarding nurses’ intention to leave their employment or the profession.

Background  The nursing shortage is a problem that is being experienced worldwide. It is a problem that, left unresolved, could have a serious impact on the provision of quality health care. Understanding the reasons why nurses leave their employment or the profession is imperative if efforts to increase retention are to be successful.

Evaluation  Electronic databases were systematically searched to identify English research reports about nurses’ intention to leave their employment or the profession. Key results concerning the issue were extracted and synthesized.

Key issues  The diversified measurement instruments, samples and levels of intention to leave caused difficulties in the attempt to compare or synthesize findings. The factors influencing nurses’ intention to leave were identified and categorized into organizational and individual factors.

Conclusions  The reasons that trigger nurses’ intention to leave are complex and are influenced by organizational and individual factors. Further studies should be conducted to investigate how external factors such as job opportunities correlate with nurses’ intention to leave.

Implications for nursing management  The review provides insight that can be useful in designing and implementing strategies to maintain a sustainable workforce in nursing.