Emotional intelligence: enhancing values-based practice and compassionate care in nursing




This article reports on a study which examined the predictive relationship between emotional intelligence and the following programme outcomes for student nurses: clinical practice performance; academic performance and retention.


In the context of concerns about a lack of compassionate care and amid calls for values-based selection procedures, emotional intelligence is emerging as a potential factor which might help the nursing profession to address some of these concerns.


The study employed a longitudinal survey.


Student nurse applicants (n = 307) were asked to complete self-report scales to establish a total score and four subscores for emotional intelligence and these scores were matched to individual student's performance on the undergraduate programme. The scales were completed between June–September 2007 and performance data were collected up until January 2009.


A significant predictive relationship was found between emotional intelligence and all three programme outcomes: practice performance; academic performance and retention, after controlling for prior academic achievement, age and gender. There was a zero Pearson correlation between prior academic attainment and overall emotional intelligence, indicating that both predict different outcomes.


Recruitment and selection procedures should consider emotional intelligence as a legitimate additional entrance criterion for student nurses and further research is required to examine the potential relationship between emotional intelligence and compassionate care.