Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Compliance with Safety Practices Among Nurses: Exploring the Link Between Organizational Safety Climate, Role Definitions, and Safe Work Practices

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Michael Zickar


Accidental exposure to bloodborne infections is a serious occupational hazard affecting thousands of health care workers. According to surveillance evidence, the level of compliance with safety regulations among health care workers is often low. This cross-sectional, correlational research investigated psychological processes involved in safety compliance. Occupational safety and industrial/organizational psychology theories were integrated to identify organizational and psychological factors that are associated with safety compliance among hospital nurses. The work-systems model of occupational safety proposed by DeJoy, Gershon, and Murphy (1998) was expanded for this study by incorporating the construct of role definition (Hofmann, Morgeson, & Gerras, 2003; Morrison, 1994). 170 nursing professionals and their 103 coworkers employed at two Mid-Western medical centers completed self-administered surveys. The final sample of 95 matched nurse-coworker dyads was analyzed. Safety compliance ratings provided by a coworker were positively correlated with self-reported compliance-specific role definitions, overall job satisfaction, conscientiousness, positive mood at work, and individually-perceived safety climate within one’s hospital unit. Safety compliance was inversely correlated with negative mood at work. Men were less likely to comply with safety, compared to women. Compliance-specific role definitions moderated the conscientiousness-compliance relationship such that, when role definitions were broad, the conscientiousness-compliance relationship was weak. Role definitions mediated the relationship between negative mood and compliance. Practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.