The nurses’ work environment thus plays a major role in their ability to provide quality care. The increase in cancer rates in Malaysia has led to the need for more qualified and competent nurses to offset a general shortage in the number of oncologists in the country. Although much research on competency has been undertaken in western contexts, a number of gaps remain. One such area that has yet to be studied in the context of Malaysia is the relationship between work environment and nursing competency.
(i) To determine the relationship between work environment and competency of cancer care nurses, and (ii) To determine predictors that contribute to cancer care nurse competency.
A customized instrument to measure cancer care nurse competency and related constructs was developed guided by literature and findings from focus group discussions.The questionnaire was administered to 645 cancer care nurses from public hospitals throughout Peninsular Malaysia. To measure the nurses’ working environment, five sub scales were included: teamwork, relationship with doctor, relationship with supervisor, nursing leadership and facilities’ control over practice. Descriptive statistics, Pearson product-moment correlations and multiple linear regression were used to analyze the data.
Findings showed positive and moderate relationships between teamwork and cancer care nursing competencies (r =.621, p<0.00), nurse-doctor relationship (r=.590, p<.000), and nurse-supervisor relationship (r=.489, p<.000). Teamwork (β =.389; p <.000) showed a major contribution to cancer care nurse competency.
The findings suggest that there is a need for greater teamwork to promote and improve cancer care nursing competency. Similarly, other elements of the work environment (nurse-doctor relationship, nurse-supervisor relationship) also contribute to nursing competency. The findings hint at the critical importance of the work environment in ensuring an effective health care delivery system as it pertains to cancer care in Malaysia.