1. Cumbey, Dorothy A. PhD, RN
  2. Alexander, Judith W. PhD, RN


Objective: This study examined the relationship of the organizational variables of structure, technology, and environment with job satisfaction among public health nurses in a southeastern state.


Background: There is little research on the characteristics of the work environment that influence nurses to remain in the public health work setting. Prior research in this setting has focused on the negative aspects of the nursing positions. These aspects of least desirability for the public health nurse provide only a partial view of job satisfaction. To decide and plan specific strategies, the nurse administrator must have valid and useful information about the positive aspects of job satisfaction of public health nurses.


Methods: The researchers distributed a questionnaire to all licensed nursing personnel employed by a state public health department. Data collection consisted of four tools: 1) structure instrument; 2) technology instrument; 3) environmental uncertainty instrument; and 4) McCloskey-Mueller Job Satisfaction Scale (MMSS). The sample of 838 public health nurses (response rate of 50.6%) included representation from all 13 districts and the central office of the public health department.


Results: Significant relationships were found between job satisfaction and the demographic variables of nurse category (registered nurse and licensed practical nurse) and years of experience with the public health department. The critical variable for predicting job satisfaction in this group of public health nurses was organizational structure (vertical participation, horizontal participation, and formalization). Dimensions of structures accounted for 41% of the variance in job satisfaction. Structure remained the critical predictor of job satisfaction, although the findings do not suggest a conclusive model. The three dimensions of technology (instability, variability, and uncertainty) and environmental uncertainty assumed significance only in concert with each other or with the dimensions of structure.


Conclusions: This study contributes to nursing management theory by examining the relationship of organizational structure, technology, and environmental uncertainty with job satisfaction in public health nurses. This research also has implications for nurse administrators in public health for creating more flexible work environments and facilitating staff involvement in decision making.