The emotional intelligence of registered nurses commencing critical care nursing

Document Type

Journal Article


Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa


School of Nursing and Midwifery




Nagel, Y., Towell, A., Nel, E., & Foxall, F. (2016). The emotional intelligence of registered nurses commencing critical care nursing. Curationis, 39(1), 1-7. Available here


Background: Critical care is described as complex, detailed healthcare in a unique, technologically rich environment. Critical care nursing requires a strong knowledge base and exceptional clinical and technological skills to cope in this demanding environment. Many registered nurses (RNs) commencing work in these areas may lack resilience, and because of the stress of the critical care environment, coping mechanisms need to be developed. To prevent burnout and to enable critical care nurses to function holistically, emotional intelligence (EI) is essential in the development of such coping mechanisms.

Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the EI of RNs commencing work in critical care units in a private hospital group in Gauteng, South Africa.

Method: The design used for this study was a quantitative descriptive survey. The target population were RNs commencing work in critical care units. Data were collected from RNs using the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire – Short Form and analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software.

Results: The sample (n = 30) had a mean age of 32 years. Most of the participants (63%) qualified through the completion of a bridging course between 2010 and 2012. The majority (62%) of the sample had less than 2 years’ experience as RNs.

Conclusion: The EI of RNs commencing work in a critical care environment was indicative of a higher range of Global EI, with the well-being factor scoring the highest, followed by the emotionality factor, then self-control, with the sociability factor scoring the lowest.



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