Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




People enter into healthcare facilities to maintain or restore health; however, often times those seeking health are harmed during the process by avoidable medical errors. Since the Institute of Medicine report on patient harm, safety culture continues to be the largest barrier in realizing safer patient care. Staff nurses' comprise the largest component of the health care workforce in hospitals and consistently have the lowest perceptions of a safety culture. Leaders who play a key role in creating and sustaining a safety culture consistently have the most favorable perception of safety culture. The development of a safety culture and safer patient care will not be fully achieved without a richer understanding of safety culture within the unit or organizational situational context as experienced by those leading and providing patient care. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe safety culture as experienced by staff nurses and nurse leaders within medical-surgical units in an acute care community hospital. The research proposal for this dissertation, is presented, followed by a comprehensive literature review and the research questions proposed for this study. These chapters are followed by the study methodology,which utilized inductive qualitative description to discover the safety culture experiences within and between medical-surgical staff nurses and nurse leaders. The results of this study included six themes within staff nurses, five themes within nurse leaders, and similarities and differences in language and perceptions between staff nurses and nurse leaders. These findings are compared to previous findings, along with unique findings from this research.

The dissertation is concluded with a discussion of the strengths and limitations of this study, with recommendations for future application in nursing research, practice, education, and policy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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