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An exploratory study of emotional intelligence in clinical nurses

Michael S Freel, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between the emotional intelligence (EI) of clinical nurses and situational variables such as age, gender, years of college education, years of total work experience, years of work experience as a nurse and nursing sub-specialty in a large, public health system in the Midwest. The researcher was interested in knowing if older, more experienced nurses had higher EI skills than those nurses starting their careers, or if work experience impacted EI abilities. Factors for years of total work experience and years of work experience as a nurse were excluded due to collinearity with the age factor. Nursing sub-specialties were chosen to assess if nurses in varying departments were more or less emotionally intelligent. Years of college education was selected to explore if it had any affect on EI. Gender was excluded as a variable due to lack of response. ^ The sample included 142 clinical nurses with varying degrees of education and experience. Nursing sub-specialties included medical/surgical, surgical services, women’s health, critical care and intermediate care. ^ Variables examined for differences and predictors were overall and branch EI scores measured using the Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). Statistical analyses indicated no significant differences in EI may be attributed to situational variables including nurses’ age and years of education. EI abilities were not correlated to nursing sub-specialties. Qualitative interviews provided little agreement on situational or dispositional antecedents to EI. ^ A subjective comparison of EI abilities among clinical nurses in this study and four other occupational groups from previous research studies suggested that nurses had higher EI abilities than other occupations. Implications for practice and recommendations for further research in EI are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Nursing|Psychology, Personality|Education, Health

Recommended Citation

Freel, Michael S, "An exploratory study of emotional intelligence in clinical nurses" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3359827.