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Ethical climate in a Belgian psychiatric inpatient setting: relation with burnout and engagement in psychiatric nurses

Astrid Faelens, Marleen Claeys, Bernard Sabbe, Didier Schrijvers, Patrick Luyten


Research suggests a relation between the ethical climate – that is, the organisational conditions and practices that affect the way ethical issues with regard to patient care are discussed and decided - and job satisfaction of nurses. Yet no study to date has investigated the relationship between ethical climate and job satisfaction in psychiatric nurses. This study aimed to address this critical gap in our knowledge by investigating the relationships among ethical climate and features of both burnout and engagement based on the Job Demands-Resources Model (JD - R model) in a large cross-sectional study of 265 nurses working in a large psychiatric inpatient hospital in Flanders, Belgium. Correlational and multiple hierarchical regression analyses were used to investigate the relationship between ethical climate, burnout and engagement. In addition, based on the JD-R model, we also investigated whether engagement mediated the relationship between ethical climate on the one hand and job satisfaction and turnover intention on the other and whether ethical climate moderated the relationship between emotional burden and burnout. Results showed that a positive ethical climate was related to lower levels of emotional exhaustion and distancing and higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction. Furthermore, although ethical climate did not buffer against the effects of emotional burden on burnout, higher levels of engagement explained in part the relationship between ethical climate and job satisfaction.


Burnout, engagement, ethical climate, job wellbeing, mental healthcare, nursing

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