The motivation to care: Application and extension of motivation theory to professional nursing work

Roseanne C. Moody, Daniel J. Pesut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Purpose - The purpose of this research is to describe a model of nurses' work motivation relevant to the human caring stance of professional nursing work. Design/methodology/approach - The model was derived from selected theories of behavioral motivation and work motivation. Evidence-based theory addressing nurses' work motivation and nurses' motivational states and traits in relation to characteristics of organizational culture and patient health outcomes is suggested in an effort to make a distinct contribution to health services research. An integrated review of selected theories of motivation is presented, including conceptual analyses, theory-building techniques, and the evidence supporting the theoretical propositions and linkages among variables intrinsic to nurses' work motivation. Findings - The model of the Motivation to Care for Professional Nursing Work is a framework intended for empirical testing and theory building. The model proposes specific leadership and management strategies to support a culture of motivational caring and competence in health care organizations. Originality/value - Attention to motivation theory and research provides insights and suggests relationships among nurses' motivation to care, motivational states and traits, individual differences that influence nurses' work motivation, and the special effects of nurses' work motivation on patient care outcomes. Suggestions for nursing administrative direction and research are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-48
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Health, Organisation and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 6 2006


  • Health services
  • Leadership
  • Motivation (psychology)
  • Nursing


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