The impact of social support upon intention to leave among female nurses in Europe: Secondary analysis of data from the NEXT survey

B.I.J.M. van der Heijden, A. Kümmerling, K. van Dam, E. van der Schoot, M. Estryn-Béhar, H.M. Hasselhorn

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Objectives: This study examined the importance of one's social work environment in the light of prevention of premature leave from the nursing profession. A research model with social support (from direct supervisor and close colleagues) as predictor and intention to leave as the dependent variable has been tested, while controlling for job satisfaction and age. Moreover, we have studied the impact of nurses’ age upon the prevalence of social support from both parties.

Participants: Data were obtained from 17,524 registered female nurses working in hospitals throughout Europe (Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia).

Results: Our findings indicated that a lack of job satisfaction is an important risk factor in the light of nurses’ turnover as for most countries the intention to leave cannot be buffered by social support from one's close colleagues. However, in general, social support from one's direct superior appeared to contribute negatively to the intention to leave the profession, over and above job satisfaction and age. As regards age effects, in line with our expectation, we have found a significant negative relationship between age and social support from close colleagues, while the hypothesis regarding the relationship between age and supervisory support could not be confirmed.

Conclusions: Given its importance in the light of preventing premature leave, we advocate not to neglect the possible positive effects of social support from important key figures like nurses’ direct supervisor and close colleagues. It is necessary for health care institutions to carefully pay attention to finding opportunities to obtain more social support for all staff members. In Section 5, limitations and practical implications of this study are dealt with.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-445
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of nursing studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Social support
  • Job satisfaction
  • Age Intention to leave
  • Occupational turnover
  • Nursing sector Europe

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