Positivity in healthcare: relation of optimism to performance

Kyle W. Luthans (University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, Nebraska, USA)
Sandra A. Lebsack (University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, Nebraska, USA)
Richard R. Lebsack (University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, Nebraska, USA)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Publication date: 23 May 2008



The purpose of this paper is to explore the linkage between nurses' levels of optimism and performance outcomes.


The study sample consisted of 78 nurses in all areas of a large healthcare facility (hospital) in the Midwestern United States. The participants completed surveys to determine their current state of optimism. Supervisory performance appraisal data were gathered in order to measure performance outcomes. Spearman correlations and a one‐way ANOVA were used to analyze the data.


The results indicated a highly significant positive relationship between the nurses' measured state of optimism and their supervisors' ratings of their commitment to the mission of the hospital, a measure of contribution to increasing customer satisfaction, and an overall measure of work performance.

Research limitations/implications

This was an exploratory study. Larger sample sizes and longitudinal data would be beneficial because it is probable that state optimism levels will vary and that it might be more accurate to measure state optimism at several points over time in order to better predict performance outcomes. Finally, the study design does not imply causation.

Practical implications

Suggestions for effectively developing and managing nurses' optimism to positively impact their performance are provided.


To date, there has been very little empirical evidence assessing the impact that positive psychological capacities such as optimism of key healthcare professionals may have on performance. This paper was designed to help begin to fill this void by examining the relationship between nurses' self‐reported optimism and their supervisors' evaluations of their performance.



Luthans, K., Lebsack, S. and Lebsack, R. (2008), "Positivity in healthcare: relation of optimism to performance", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 178-188. https://doi.org/10.1108/14777260810876330

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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