How assertive are nurses in the workplace? A preliminary pilot study

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AimThis paper aims to outline the development and results of an instrument that describes the assertive behaviour of nurses.BackgroundAs a largely female dominated profession, nurses are anecdotally regarded to be in traditional subservient roles. In addition, nurses aspire to public images of nurses as ‘nice’. These factors are thought to reduce nurses capacity to behave in an assertive manner. However, little empirical evidence exists that describes the assertive skills of today's practicing nurse.MethodsA 44-item questionnaire collected data from 27 registered nurses.ResultsItems that feature strongly in the respondents reported behaviour are allowing others to express opinions, complimenting others and saying no. These findings suggest that nurses behave in a passive way, conforming to the image of a nice nurse. Nurses were less adept at disagreeing with others opinions and providing constructive criticism. Differences emerged in behaviours between the three groups.ConclusionAssertive behaviour is a skill, i.e. utilized according to interpersonal and role relationship. Factors within the work environment such as colleagues and atmosphere can support or prevent these behaviours.

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