Research Topic

From Structure to Agency: Understanding Nurse's Agency in Quality and Safe Care

About this Research Topic

The aim of this Research Topic is to focus attention squarely on nurses' work structures and nurses' agency affecting the safety and quality of care provided to patients. Since the publication of the influential report To err is human, patients' quality of care has been considered mainly as an organizational rather than an individual (i.e. nurse) challenge raising the importance of staffing at the nursing ward on the one hand and cultivating organizational learning on the other. Yet, 20 years after, scholars regrettably agree that despite the merit of looking at system problems, and highlighting organizational learning, the healthcare system has not shown enough improvement. Authors suggest that perhaps, the pendulum swung too far toward systems, thus should now swing back toward individual agency.

Consequently, the main goal of this Research Topic is to shed light on nurses' agency, highlighting nurses’ personality traits, values, decision-making processes, and motivation as affecting patients' care. We seek contributions that can inform the development of an overarching agency-sensitive theory that examines how to manage the balance across multiple levels of analysis. We encourage theoretical, empirical and review submissions that adopt quantitative, qualitative or mixed-method studies. Examples of topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:

• Exploring nurse's personality traits, decision-making processes, motivations, and strategies that impact patient's safety and quality of care and/or moderate the workload-performance link.
• Exploring the relative contribution, as well as the trade-off effects, of structural compared with agency explanations of patients' safety and quality of care.
• Addressing theoretical and measurement issues for better understanding the concept of nurses' agency.
• The role of organizational and job characteristics (e.g., leadership, cultures, etc.) in balancing nurse's agency and patients' outcomes.


Keywords: Nursing, Quality of care, Safety, Decision-making process, Missed nursing care, Accountability, agency


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The aim of this Research Topic is to focus attention squarely on nurses' work structures and nurses' agency affecting the safety and quality of care provided to patients. Since the publication of the influential report To err is human, patients' quality of care has been considered mainly as an organizational rather than an individual (i.e. nurse) challenge raising the importance of staffing at the nursing ward on the one hand and cultivating organizational learning on the other. Yet, 20 years after, scholars regrettably agree that despite the merit of looking at system problems, and highlighting organizational learning, the healthcare system has not shown enough improvement. Authors suggest that perhaps, the pendulum swung too far toward systems, thus should now swing back toward individual agency.

Consequently, the main goal of this Research Topic is to shed light on nurses' agency, highlighting nurses’ personality traits, values, decision-making processes, and motivation as affecting patients' care. We seek contributions that can inform the development of an overarching agency-sensitive theory that examines how to manage the balance across multiple levels of analysis. We encourage theoretical, empirical and review submissions that adopt quantitative, qualitative or mixed-method studies. Examples of topics include, but are not restricted to, the following:

• Exploring nurse's personality traits, decision-making processes, motivations, and strategies that impact patient's safety and quality of care and/or moderate the workload-performance link.
• Exploring the relative contribution, as well as the trade-off effects, of structural compared with agency explanations of patients' safety and quality of care.
• Addressing theoretical and measurement issues for better understanding the concept of nurses' agency.
• The role of organizational and job characteristics (e.g., leadership, cultures, etc.) in balancing nurse's agency and patients' outcomes.


Keywords: Nursing, Quality of care, Safety, Decision-making process, Missed nursing care, Accountability, agency


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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