Selection, optimization, and compensation in nursing: exploration of job-specific strategies, scale development, and age-specific associations to work ability

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(1) To explore ‘successful ageing’ strategies in terms of selection, optimization and compensation in nursing; (2) To develop a scale that measures these strategies in nursing; (3) To investigate the association between these strategies in nursing and work ability of nurses and the moderating effects of age on this relationship.


Studies indicate impaired work ability of older nurses. Research is needed to examine if ‘successful ageing’ strategies can promote the work ability especially in older nurses.


The investigation applied a mixed method design: Study (1) Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore selection, optimization and compensation in nursing; (Study 2) A cross-sectional survey was used to test the association between selection, optimization and compensation in nursing and work ability.


Data were collected in 2010 and 2011. Study 1: 17 nurses ≥45 years were interviewed; Study 2: 438 nurses (21–63 years) participated. A selection, optimization and compensation-in-nursing-scale was applied that was developed on the basis of study 1. Work ability was measured with the Work Ability Index (Dimension 1).


Study 1, the majority of reported ageing strategies were identified as selection, optimization and compensation in nursing. Study 2, selection, optimization, and compensation in nursing was positively related with work ability. The positive relationship was stronger for older nurses.


Selection, optimization and compensation in nursing contributes positively to work ability, particularly in older nurses. This finding is relevant for the development of measures that promote work ability of nurses over the course of their professional careers.

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