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Nurse managers have a pivotal role in fostering unit climates supportive of implementing evidence-based practices (EBPs) in care delivery. EBP leadership behaviors and competencies of nurse managers and their impact on practice climates are widely overlooked in implementation science. The purpose of this study was to examine the contributions of nurse manager EBP leadership behaviors and nurse manager EBP competencies in explaining unit climates for EBP implementation in adult medical-surgical units.
A multi-site, multi-unit cross-sectional research design was used to recruit the sample of 24 nurse managers and 553 randomly selected staff nurses from 24 adult medical-surgical units from 7 acute care hospitals in the Northeast and Midwestern USA. Staff nurse perceptions of nurse manager EBP leadership behaviors and unit climates for EBP implementation were measured using the Implementation Leadership Scale and Implementation Climate Scale, respectively. EBP competencies of nurse managers were measured using the Nurse Manager EBP Competency Scale. Participants were emailed a link to an electronic questionnaire and asked to respond within 1 month. The contributions of nurse manager EBP leadership behaviors and competencies in explaining unit climates for EBP implementation were estimated using mixed-effects models controlling for nurse education and years of experience on current unit and accounting for the variability across hospitals and units. Significance level was set at α < .05.
Two hundred sixty-four staff nurses and 22 nurse managers were included in the final sample, representing 22 units in 7 hospitals. Nurse manager EBP leadership behaviors (p < .001) and EBP competency (p = .008) explained 52.4% of marginal variance in unit climate for EBP implementation. Leadership behaviors uniquely explained 45.2% variance. The variance accounted for by the random intercepts for hospitals and units (p < .001) and years of nursing experience in current unit (p < .05) were significant but level of nursing education was not.
Nurse managers are significantly related to unit climates for EBP implementation primarily through their leadership behaviors. Future implementation studies should consider the leadership of nurse managers in creating climates supportive of EBP implementation.