The effects of authentic leadership and occupational coping self-efficacy on new graduate nurses’ burnout and mental health: A cross-sectional study


Background – New nurse burnout has personal and organizational costs. The combined effect of authentic leadership, person-job fit within areas of worklife, and occupational coping self-efficacy on new nurses’ burnout and emotional wellbeing has not been investigated. Objectives - This study tested a model linking authentic leadership, areas of worklife, occupational coping self-efficacy, burnout, and mental health among new graduate nurses. We also tested the validity of the concept of interpersonal strain at work as a facet of burnout. Design – A cross-sectional national survey of Canadian new graduate nurses was conducted. Participants – Registered nurses working in direct patient care in acute care settings with less than 3 years of experience were selected from provincial registry databases of 10 Canadian provinces. A total of 1009 of 3743 surveyed new graduate nurses were included in the final sample (useable response rate 27%). Methods - Participants received a mail survey package that included a letter of information, study questionnaire, and a $2 coffee voucher. To optimize response rates non-responders received a reminder letter four weeks after the initial mailing, followed by a second survey package four weeks after that. Ethics approval was obtained from the university ethics board prior to starting the study. Descriptive statistics and scale reliabilities were analyzed. Structural equation modeling with maximum likelihood estimation was used to test the fit between the data and the hypothesized model and to assess the factor structure of the expanded burnout measure. Results - The hypothesized model was an acceptable fit for the data (χ2 (164) = 1221.38; χ2 ratio =7.447; CFI =.921; IFI =.921; RMSEA =.08). All hypothesized paths were significant. Authentic leadership had a positive effect on areas of worklife, which in turn had a positive effect on occupational coping self-efficacy, resulting in lower burnout, which was associated with poor mental health. Conclusions - Authentic leaders may play an important role in creating positive working conditions and strengthening new nurses’ confidence that help them cope with job demands, thereby protecting them from developing burnout and poor mental health. Leadership training to develop supervisors’ authentic leadership skills may promote the development of person-job fit, thereby increasing occupational self-efficacy and new nurses’ wellbeing. Keywords: authentic leadership, areas of worklife, new graduate nurses, occupational coping self-efficacy, burnout, mental health