What is Behind Counterproductive Work Behaviors in the Nursing Profession? A Systematic Literature Review

What is Behind Counterproductive Work Behaviors in the Nursing Profession? A Systematic Literature Review


Background: Counterproductive work behaviors are considered an important issue for every workplace. This is particularly the case in the nursing setting, as such behaviors can also be detrimental for patients. However, the reasons underpinning nurses’ counterproductive behavior have been little studied, and the literature from the perspective of perpetrators’ is fragmented. Purpose: The aim of this systematic literature review was to identify and summarize studies concerning antecedents that could lead nurses to display counterproductive work behaviors. Methods: The PRISMA Statement and Flowchart were used to select the studies included in this review. The research was performed in July 2015 using the PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Cochrane databases. Data were selected in stages based on inclusion, exclusion and quality criteria, and analyzed using Popay’s method. Results: Fourteen papers were selected. Counterproductive work behaviors in the nursing work environment were observed. The majority of studies were performed in North America (USA and Canada), using quantitative or qualitative designs. These work behaviors were studied in order to delineate predisposing factors and their relationship to Moral Disengagement. When counterproductive work behaviors are not sanctioned, and enforcement policies are not applied, they become an important problem for organizations. From the results of our systematic review, it is possible to identify two main foci: counterproductive work behaviors’ protective factors, and counterproductive work behaviors’ risk factors. Conclusion and implications for practice: This literature review identified specific antecedents that predispose nurses to engaging in counterproductive work behaviors, which negatively affect the quality of assistance and which can result in endangering the patient. This literature review helps to understanding the reasons that lead nurses to display counterproductive work behaviors, and can help prevent and restrict these phenomena.


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