Intention to leave nursing

Beatrice I.J.M. van der Heijden (Open University of The Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands)
Karen van Dam (Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)
Hans Martin Hasselhorn (University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 27 November 2009



The purpose of this paper is to examine potential predictors of nurses' intention to leave the nursing profession. Specifically, this study investigates whether perceptions of the interpersonal work environment, work‐home interference, and subsequent job satisfaction, would predict occupational turnover intentions beyond the impact of nurses' occupational commitment.


A questionnaire is completed twice, with a one‐year interval by 1,187 registered nurses. Data were collected between October 2002 and June 2003.


The outcomes of structural equation modelling analyses reveal that an unsupportive work environment, low leadership quality, and high work‐to‐home interference results in lower job satisfaction, which, in turn, predicts nurses' intention to leave the profession one year afterwards, when controls for occupational commitment. Work‐to‐home interference shows an additional, direct relationship with occupational turnover intentions.

Practical implications

The findings have implications for organizational and individual interventions, indicating that nurses' withdrawal from the profession may be prevented by extending nurses' social support at work, helping them to combine work with non‐work, and improving the leadership quality of their supervisors.


Job satisfaction and work‐context factors explain additional variance in intention to leave nursing, beyond the effect of occupational commitment. Leadership quality is the strongest predictor of intention to leave nursing. Job satisfaction plays an intervening role in the relationship between work context and intention to leave nursing.



Beatrice I.J.M. van der Heijden, Karen van Dam and Hans Martin Hasselhorn (2009) "Intention to leave nursing", Career Development International, Vol. 14 No. 7, pp. 616-635

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