Term of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)


School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Camille Stern

Committee Member 1

Nancy E. Reilly

Committee Member 2

Grace B. Martin


This comparative survey explored the relationship of professional autonomy to organizational commitment (affective commitment and continuance commitment). The study sample included 72 oncology nurses delivering palliative or curative care in the home and hospital settings.

The research questions which formed this study explored the relationship of professional autonomy and affective commitment and continuance commitment in home and hospital oncology nurses. Differences in the scores of professional autonomy and organizational commitment between the two groups were also addressed by the research questions.

Data collection was executed using a four-part survey questionnaire. The questionnaire included: demographic factors, affective factors of organizational commitment, continuance factors of organizational commitment, and professional autonomy.

Subjects were randomly selected by computer from the mailing lists of the Oncology Nursing Society. Currently practicing home oncology registered nurses and hospital oncology registered nurses comprised the sample population. The sampling frame included the continental United States. Of the instrument packets mailed, seventy-two were used in the final sample.

Descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted. Specifically, frequency distributions, t-tests, and Pearson correlations were done.

Research findings revealed partial support of the proposed theoretical model linking professional autonomy directly to affective and continuance commitment (organizational commitment). The home oncology group studied had a greater statistical mean (t=3.78, p<.001) for professional autonomy. Correlational findings revealed a statistically significant relationship between professional autonomy and affective commitment in both groups singularly (r=.45, p<.05 & r=.43, p<.05) and combined (r=.42, p<.05). There were, however, no statistically significant differences between the two groups on the affective commitment and continuance commitment scores, and no significant correlation between continuance and professional autonomy.

Professional autonomy was statistically shown to have a positive relationship to affective commitment. This relationship provides a hidden resource for potential change in the dilemmas of nursing retention and turnover.


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