JOURNAL ARTICLE

Comprehensive systematic review of evidence on developing and sustaining nursing leadership that fosters a healthy work environment in healthcare

Alan Pearson, Heather Laschinger, Kylie Porritt, Zoe Jordan, Donna Tucker, Leslye Long
International Journal of Evidence-based Healthcare 2007, 5 (2): 208-53
21631788
Objectives  The objective of this review was to appraise and synthesise the best available evidence on the feasibility, meaningfulness and effectiveness of nursing leadership attributes that contribute to the development and sustainability of nursing leadership to foster a healthy work environment. Inclusion criteria  This review considered quantitative and qualitative research papers that addressed the feasibility, meaningfulness and effectiveness of developing and sustaining nursing leadership to foster a healthy work environment in healthcare. Papers of the highest level of evidence ratings were given priority. Participants of interest were leaders and those who were affected by leadership, specifically staff and patients. Interventions of interest including positive leadership attributes, as well as system and policy constructs, that impact on the development and sustainability of nursing leadership within the healthcare environment were considered in the review. Search strategy  The search strategy sought to find both published and unpublished studies and papers, limited to the English language. An initial limited search of MEDLINE and CINAHL was undertaken followed by an analysis of the text words contained in the title and abstract, and of the index terms used to describe the paper. A second extensive search was then undertaken using all identified key words and index terms. Methodological quality  Each paper was assessed by two independent reviewers for methodological quality prior to inclusion in the review using an appropriate critical appraisal instrument from the System for the Unified Management, Assessment and Review of Information (SUMARI) package. Results  A total of 48 papers, experimental, qualitative and textual in nature, were included in the review. The majority of papers were descriptive and examined the relationships between leadership styles and characteristics and particular outcomes, such as satisfaction. Because of the diverse nature of these papers meta-analysis of the results was not possible. For this reason, this section of the review was presented in narrative form. The qualitative and textual papers were analysed using The Joanna Briggs Institute-Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument and The Joanna Briggs Institute-Narrative, Opinion and Text Assessment and Review Instrument. The process of meta-synthesis embodied in these programs involves the aggregation or synthesis of findings or conclusions. Eight syntheses were derived with key themes related to collaboration, education, emotional intelligence, organisational climate, professional development, positive behaviours and qualities and the need for a supportive environment. Conclusion  A combination of leadership styles and characteristics was found to contribute to the development and sustainability of a healthy work environment. The current work conducted in this area provides a solid foundation for future directions in research.

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