Flourishing at work: Nurses' motivation through daily communication – An ethnographic approach

Carina Ahlstedt, Carin Eriksson Lindvall, Inger K. Holmström, Åsa Muntlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Shortage and turnover of registered nurses are worldwide challenges, and work motivation is one factor in retaining staff in the healthcare sector. The aim of this study was to explore registered nurses' motivation expressed in daily communication, using the basic needs in self-determination theory as a framework. A secondary analysis of ethnographic data, collected through participant observations, informal interviews during observations, and individual interviews, was used. A total sample of all registered nurses employed at a hospital unit in Sweden (n = 10) participated. The data were analyzed thematically through the lens of the basic needs in self-determination theory: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Self-regulation of learning, the possibilities to discuss work-related challenges with colleagues, and having registered nurses lead dialogues with physicians were factors connected to autonomy. Having a registered nurse and physician solve problems together was a factor connected to competence. A sense of belonging and security in a permissive climate between registered nurses was connected to relatedness. This paper has implications for increased awareness of the three basic motivational needs, which could be used in the development of attractive workplaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1169-1176
Number of pages8
JournalNursing and Health Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • communication
  • healthcare sector
  • motivation
  • nurses
  • self-determination theory
  • workplace interdisciplinary communication


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