The role of support antecedents in nurses' intentions to quit: the case of Australia

Kate Shacklock, Griffith Univesity
Yvonne O. Brunetto, Southern Cross University
Stephen Teo, AUT University
Rodney Farr-Wharton, University of the Sunshine Coast



The study used Social Exchange Theory as a lens to examine associations between nurses' support antecedents (supervisor–nurse relationships and perceived organizational support) and their job attitudes (job satisfaction, organizational commitment and engagement).


Similar to many other westernized countries, there is a shortage of nurses working as nurses in Australia. The attrition of nurses from the workplace continues to be a challenge for many countries, with resultant calls for improved retention rates.


The design employed in this study was a Survey.


A self-report survey of 1600 nurses employed in five private sector hospitals throughout Australia was completed during 2010–2011, resulting in 510 completed surveys.


A mediation path model was developed to test the hypotheses and results of Partial Least Squares analysis showed that both support antecedents (supervisor–nurse relationships and perceived organizational support) positively led to engagement and job satisfaction. Subsequently, nurses more satisfied with their jobs were also more committed to their organizations, ultimately leading to lower intentions to quit. In addition, job satisfaction was found to mediate the relationships between organizational commitment and turnover intentions, plus between supervisor–subordinate relationships and turnover intentions.


In the context of a shortage of nurses and higher than average turnover rates, the findings suggest that it is important to improve nurses' job satisfaction and organizational commitment to improve retention. However, the findings also suggest that workplace relationships and organizational management are currently far from ideal.