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Virtues, work satisfactions and psychological wellbeing among nurses

Ronald J. Burke (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Eddy S.W. Ng (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California, USA)
Lisa Fiksenbaum (Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Canada)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 25 September 2009




The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between virtues and indicators of work satisfaction and engagement, perceptions of hospital functioning and quality of nursing care, and psychological wellbeing of nursing staff.


Data were collected from 79 staff nurses using anonymously completed questionnaires. A virtue is any psychological process that enables a person to benefit himself or herself and others. Three virtues were considered: gratitude, optimism, and proactive behaviors. This emphasis was consistent with emerging trends in both psychology and organizational studies, termed positive psychology or positive organizational scholarship respectively, to focus on strengths and excellence rather than weakness and pathology.


Hierarchical regression analyses, controlling for both personal demographic and work situation characteristics, indicated that virtues accounted for significant increments in explained variance on most outcome measures. Gratitude emerged as a particularly consistent predictor of these.

Research limitations/implications

The research needs to be expanded to larger samples, given the small sample of nurses involved in this preliminary study.

Practical implications

Explanations for the association of virtues with favorable outcomes are offered along with potentially practical implications.


The paper contributes to the growing literature on the relationship of virtues or character strengths to individual wellbeing and performance in work settings.



Burke, R.J., Ng, E.S.W. and Fiksenbaum, L. (2009), "Virtues, work satisfactions and psychological wellbeing among nurses", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 2 No. 3, pp. 202-219.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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