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Transformational leadership and safety performance among nurses: the mediating role of knowledge-related job characteristics




To report the impact of transformational leadership on two dimensions of nurses' safety performance (i.e. safety compliance and safety participation) and to study the mediating role of knowledge-related job characteristics in this relationship.


Safety performance refers to the behaviours that employees exhibit to adhere to safety guidelines and to promote health and safety at their workplace. Nurses' safety performance is a major challenge for healthcare settings, urging the need to identify the key determinants and psychological mechanisms that influence it.


A cross-sectional survey study.


The study was carried out in September 2010 in a large Belgian hospital. We used self-administered questionnaires; 152 nurses participated. The hypotheses were tested using hierarchical regression analyses.


In line with our first hypothesis, the results show that transformational leadership exerted a significant positive impact on both dimensions of nurses' safety performance. This positive relation was mediated by knowledge-related job characteristics, supporting our second hypothesis.


Head nurses' transformational leadership can enhance nurses' compliance with and participation in safety. Furthermore, transformational head nurses are able to influence the perception that their nurses have about the kind and amount of knowledge in their job, which can also lead to increases in both dimensions of nurses' safety performance. This study therefore demonstrates the key impact that transformational head nurses have, both directly and indirectly, on the safety performance of their nurses.