J Adv Nurs. 2021 Feb;77(2):819-831. doi: 10.1111/jan.14637. Epub 2020 Nov 24.
AIMS: Nurses are at the forefront of public health emergencies facing psychological pressures ensuing from the loss of patients and potential risk of infection while treating the infected. This study examines whether inclusive leadership has a causal relationship with psychological distress and to assess the mediation effect of psychological safety on this relationship in the long run. The hypotheses are developed and interpreted with the help of theoretical underpinnings from job demands resources theory and the theory of shattered assumptions.
DESIGN: Three-wave longitudinal study.
METHODS: Questionnaire was used to carry out three waves of data collection from 405 nurses employed at five hospitals in Wuhan during the COVID-19 outbreak between the months of January-April 2020. Partial least square structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) was used to analyze data while controlling for age, gender, education, experience, and working hours.
RESULTS: Results supported the hypothesized relationships where inclusive leadership indicated significant inverse causal relationship with psychological distress and a positive causal relationship with psychological safety. Mediation effect of psychological safety was found significant, while the model explained 73.9% variance in psychological distress.
CONCLUSION: Inclusive leadership, through its positive and supportive characteristics, can pave way for such mechanisms that improve the psychological safety of employees in the long run and curbs psychological distress.
IMPACT: This is the first longitudinal study to examine the relationship between inclusive leadership and psychological distress in health care and also examines the mediating mechanism of psychology safety. There is scarcity of empirical research on factors that determine and affect behavioural mechanism of healthcare workers during traumatic events and crisis. Clinical leaders and healthcare policy makers must invest in and promote inclusive and supportive environment characterized with open and accessible leaders at workplace to improve psychological safety; it helps reduce levels of psychological distress.