Date of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Weis, Darlene


Major changes in the health care delivery system have occurred which have had an impact on the role of the nurse manager. Many managers do not have the educational preparation nor the administrative support systems they need to carry out all aspects of the role. This results in role stress experienced by the nurse manager. Two of the major components of role stress are role conflict and role ambiguity. The focus of this study was to determine the level of role conflict and role ambiguity among nurse managers. The existence of differences in the level of these stressors among managers of different nursing specialties (critical care, medical/surgical, obstetrics and operating room) were also examined. The sample (N=171) consisted of nurse managers employed in hospitals of 200 beds or more in southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The instrument used for the study was developed by Rizzo, House and Lirtzman (1970) to measure role conflict and role ambiguity in the workplace. Demographic data was collected to provide a profile of the highest scoring respondents. Respondents were also asked to identify the aspects of their role which they perceived to be most stressful. The majority of the scores were within the moderate range for role conflict and role ambiguity. Although slight differences existed in the mean scores among the four specialties, these were found not to be statistically significant at the p=.05 level. The most frequent stressors identified by the respondents included conflicting expectations, staffing problems, time constraints, financial/budget issues, lack of communication and support from administration, and counseling, evaluation and discipline of staff. The findings of this study support the need for adequate orientation and continuing education for managers, as well as improved communication and support from nursing supervisors and administration.



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