Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Does being nice make any difference to nursing students?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Prosocial behaviour is 'voluntary behavior intended to benefit another', is a social behavior that 'benefit[s] other people or society as a whole,' 'such as helping, sharing, donating, co-operating, and volunteering.' Just the kind of qualities you may wish to see in a nurse and a Norwegian study by Kjersti Nesje (2014) and published in JAN titled Nursing students’ prosocial motivation: does it predict professional commitment and involvement in the job? addresses whether or not prosocial bahaviour makes a difference to nursing students.

Nesje's study was longitudinal and involved 160 nurses. The nurses received two questionnaires: one in their final year as students and one three years later. The first questionnaire asked about why they came into nursing and the second about their level of job involvement and career commitment. Part of the final year data was about prosocial motivation which was then related to the data after three years in practice.

While job involvement and career commitment were strongly related, prosocial motivation was only strongly related to career commitment suggesting that involvement in a particular job was not highly dependent on prosocial motivation.  One consequence of this is that measuring prosocial involvement may be a good predictor of which nurses will remain in the profession. With global nursing shortages, not predicted to improve, and with high attrition of nurses from education programmes and from clinical practice, measuring prosocial motivation could form part of recruitment of nursing students or in identifying individuals who may need help to remain in the profession.

I think it worth noting the nature of this study. It is longitudinal and, in fact, the work reported here was preceded by another wave of data collection. Longitudinal studies are notoriously hard to conduct and very susceptible to attrition. In addition to the outcome of the study, it would be interesting to know how Nesje managed to involve nursing students in the study, keep them involved and to find them again after three years.

Nesje K (2014) Nursing students’ prosocial motivation: does it predict professional commitment and involvement in the job? Journal of Advanced Nursing DOI: 10.1111/jan.12456

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