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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Rural health workers and their work environment: the role of inter-personal factors on job satisfaction of nurses in rural Papua New Guinea

Rohan Jayasuriya1*, Maxine Whittaker2, Grace Halim1 and Tim Matineau3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

2 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

3 Liverpool School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:156  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-156

Published: 12 June 2012

Abstract

Background

Job satisfaction is an important focal attitude towards work. Understanding factors that relate to job satisfaction allows interventions to be developed to enhance work performance. Most research on job satisfaction among nurses has been conducted in acute care settings in industrialized countries. Factors that relate to rural nurses are different. This study examined inter-personal, intra-personal and extra-personal factors that influence job satisfaction among rural primary care nurses in a Low and Middle Income country (LMIC), Papua New Guinea.

Methods

Data was collected using self administered questionnaire from rural nurses attending a training program from 15 of the 20 provinces. Results of a total of 344 nurses were available for analysis. A measure of overall job satisfaction and measures for facets of job satisfaction was developed in the study based on literature and a qualitative study. Multi-variate analysis was used to test prediction models.

Results

There was significant difference in the level of job satisfaction by age and years in the profession. Higher levels of overall job satisfaction and intrinsic satisfaction were seen in nurses employed by Church facilities compared to government facilities (P <0.01). Ownership of facility, work climate, supervisory support and community support predicted 35% (R2 =0.35) of the variation in job satisfaction. The factors contributing most were work climate (17%) and supervisory support (10%). None of these factors were predictive of an intention to leave.

Conclusions

This study provides empirical evidence that inter-personal relationships: work climate and supportive supervision are the most important influences of job satisfaction for rural nurses in a LMIC. These findings highlight that the provision of a conducive environment requires attention to human relations aspects. For PNG this is very important as this critical cadre provide the frontline of primary health care for more than 70% of the population of the country. Many LMIC are focusing on rural health, with most of the attention given to aspects of workforce numbers and distribution. Much less attention is given to improving the aspects of the working environment that enhances intrinsic satisfaction and work climate for rural health workers who are currently in place if they are to be satisfied in their job and productive.