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Nursing Intellectual Capital Theory: Testing selected propositions Open Access


Author or creator
Covell, Christine L.
Sidani, Souraya
Additional contributors
Nursing Theory
Continuing Education
Human Capital
Nurse Staffing
Structural Equation Modeling
Type of item
Journal Article (Published)
Aims: To test selected propositions of the middle-range theory of nursing intellectual capital. Background: The nursing intellectual capital theory conceptualizes nursing knowledge’s influence on patient and organizational outcomes. The theory proposes nursing human capital, nurses’ knowledge, skills and experience, is related to the quality of patient care and nurse recruitment and retention of an inpatient care unit. Two factors within the work environment, nurse staffing and employer support for nurse continuing professional development, are proposed to influence nursing human capital’s association with patient and organizational outcomes. Design: A cross-sectional survey design. Methods: The study took place in 2008 in 6 Canadian acute care hospitals. Financial, human resource and risk data were collected from hospital departments and unit managers. Clearly specified empirical indicators quantified the study variables. The propositions of the theory were tested with data from 91 inpatient care units using structural equation modeling. Results: The propositions associated with the nursing human capital concept were supported. The propositions associated with the employer support for nurse continuing professional development concept were not. The proposition that nurse staffing’s influences on patient outcomes was mediated by the nursing human capital of an inpatient unit, was partially supported. Conclusion: Some of the theory’s propositions were empirically validated. Additional theoretical work required to refine the operationalization and measurement of some of the theory’s concepts. Additional research with larger samples of data from different geographical settings and types of hospitals is required to determine if the theory can withstand empirical scrutiny.
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© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2013
Citation for previous publication
Covell, C.L., & Sidani, S. (2013). Nursing intellectual capital theory: testing selected propositions. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(11), 2432–2445. 10.1111/jan.12118

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