Reflective practice groups and nurse professional quality of life

Main Article Content

Madison KM Sundgren
Chris Dawber
Prudence M Millear
Luigi Medoro


nursing, group supervision, reflective practice, compassion satisfaction, burnout, stress


Objective: This study aimed to examine the relationship between the quality of reflective practice groups and nurses’ professional quality of life. Background: Previous nursing research has indicated that reflective practice groups are positively associated with personal resources, job resources, and professional quality of life for nurses. The specific impact of the groups however, has not been distinguished from the impact of personal and job resources, and the explanatory mechanisms for the associations are unclear. Design/Methods: This study utilised a crosssectional, quantitative research methodology with 184 Australian nurses from a regional teaching hospital who attended reflective practice groups (88.5% female). Surveys captured demographics, personal resources (i.e. self-efficacy), job resources (i.e. job autonomy, skill discretion, job social support, and group cohesion) and perceived quality of reflective practice groups, as measured by the Clinical Supervision Evaluation Questionnaire, alongside professional quality of life outcomes. Results: Participants who rated reflective practice groups as ‘high quality’ or more effective were associated with significantly higher scores for personal and job resources of self-efficacy, autonomy, skill discretion, social support, and group cohesion. These resources, in turn, correlated with more positive professional quality of life scores; in particular compassion satisfaction and burnout. Discussion: While the study used cross-sectional data and causality cannot be inferred, the findings do indicate a clear association between attending effectively facilitated reflective practice groups and greater personal and job resources. This may indicate that the groups provide nurses with an opportunity to build or enhance these resources. Furthermore, it is proposed that this could explain a mechanism by which reflective practice groups can indirectly impact positively on professional quality of life for nurses by building resources. Future research should explore causality longitudinally. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that nurses who perceive the groups favorably have greater social support, enhanced self-efficacy, more autonomy, and increased skill discretion. These factors also align with the restorative and formative benefits of supervision. Greater personal and job resources, in turn, can enhance professional quality of life. Whilst mediating pathways have been identified, it is still not possible to definitively attribute the development of these resources to group participation. Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice: There is growing evidence to support reflective practice groups as a viable form of group clinical supervision for nurses. It is important to ensure reflective practice groups are effectively facilitated.

What is already known about the topic?

Correlational data indicates that high quality reflective practice groups may offer a cost-effective form of group clinical supervision, for nurses; providing support and helping them deal with what can be a challenging professional environment. Reflective practice groups have been linked to a range of benefits across individual and organisational levels, including; 1) increased job satisfaction, 2) higher quality of patient care, less critical incidents, 3) higher rates of staff retainment and reduced leave, and 4) enhancing the integrity of the nursing profession through accountability and skill development.

What this paper adds

Despite these claims, little is known regarding the mechanisms underpinning these documented benefits. This study provides a theoretically driven explanation; that reflective practice groups provide an opportunity for job crafting, in which nurses actively build resources (i.e. skills development critical thinking and social support), mitigating some of the negative psychological consequences associated with nursing. This information can help guide policy, practice, and the development of effective interventions to provide support and supervision for nurses.

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