Using a social capital framework to enhance measurement of the nursing work environment

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To develop, field test and analyse a social capital survey instrument for measuring the nursing work environment.


The concept of social capital, which focuses on improving productive capacity by examining relationships and networks, may provide a promising framework to measure and evaluate the nurse work environment in a variety of settings.


A survey instrument for measuring social capital in the nurse work environment was developed by adapting the World Bank's Social Capital – Integrated Questionnaire (SC-IQ). Exploratory factor analysis and multiple regression analyses were applied to assess the properties of the instrument.


The exploratory factor analysis yielded five factors that align well with the social capital framework, while reflecting unique aspects of the nurse work environment.


The results suggest that the social capital framework provides a promising context to assess the nurse work environment. Further work is needed to refine the instrument for a diverse range of health-care providers and to correlate social capital measures with quality of patient care.

Implications for nursing management

Social capital measurement of the nurse work environment has the potential to provide managers with an enhanced set of tools for building productive capacity in health-care organisations and achieving desired outcomes.

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