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Keywords:

  • coping behaviour;
  • job level;
  • locus of control;
  • nursing management;
  • role overload;
  • work stress

Aim

This study examined a two-fold moderating effect of the locus of control (LOC) and the nurses’ job level on the stress-coping relationship.

Background

The literature on stress lacks studies examining whether control, either as a personality trait or job characteristic, would overtake coping efforts.

Methods

A three-way interaction effect (workload × LOC × job level) was applied to test the moderation model. Participants were hospital staff nurses and nurse managers (= 934) in Finnish hospitals. They responded to an electronic-questionnaire that sought their work loads, coping behaviours and LOC.

Results

The results provided support for the moderation model. Staff nurses with external LOC exerted more coping behaviours when experiencing a high workload. Job level significantly altered the moderating effect of LOC; staff nurses with an internal LOC and nurse managers with an external LOC disregarded coping efforts.

Conclusion

Extrinsic control inherent in higher job levels appeared to undertake the lacking disposition of control among externals diminishing coping efforts.

Implications for nursing management

Job level interacts with LOC on the perception of control in hospitals. Staff nurses with internal LOC and nurse managers with external LOC could make a greater balance between personal and job resources effectively to deal with role overload.