Research Output

Do emotional intelligence and previous caring experience influence student nurse performance? A comparative analysis

  Background: Reports of poor nursing care have focused attention on values based selection of candidates onto nursing programmes. Values based selection lacks clarity and valid measures. Previous caring experience might lead to better care. Emotional intelligence (EI) might be associated with performance, is conceptualised and measurable.

Objectives: To examine the impact of 1) previous caring experience, 2) emotional intelligence 3) social connection scores on performance and retention in a cohort of first year nursing and midwifery students in Scotland.

Design: A longitudinal, quasi experimental design.

Setting: Adult and mental health nursing, and midwifery programmes in a Scottish University.

Methods: Adult, mental health and midwifery students (n=598) completed the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-short form and Schutte’s Emotional Intelligence Scale on entry to their programmes at a Scottish University, alongside demographic and previous caring experience data. Social connection was calculated from a subset of questions identified within the TEIQue-SF in a prior factor and Rasch analysis. Student performance was calculated as the mean mark across the year. Withdrawal data were gathered.

Results: 598 students completed baseline measures. 315 students declared previous caring experience, 277 not. An independent-samples t-test identified that those without previous caring experience scored higher on performance (57.33 ± 11.38) than those with previous caring experience (54.87 ± 11.19), a statistically significant difference of 2.47 (95% CI, 0.54 to 4.38), t(533) = 2.52, p = .012. Emotional intelligence scores were not associated with performance. Social connection scores for those withdrawing (mean rank = 249) and those remaining (mean rank = 304.75) were statistically significantly different, U = 15300, z = - 2.61, p < 0.009.

Conclusions: Previous caring experience led to worse performance in this cohort. Emotional intelligence was not a useful indicator of performance. Lower scores on the social connection factor were associated with withdrawal from the course.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 April 2016

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  • Library of Congress:

    RT Nursing

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    610.73 Nursing

  • Funders:

    NHS Education Scotland/Scottish Government Health Directive Delivery Group


Stenhouse, R., Snowden, A., Young, J., Carver, F., Carver, H., & Brown, N. (2016). Do emotional intelligence and previous caring experience influence student nurse performance? A comparative analysis. Nurse Education Today, 43, 1-9.



Emotional intelligence; student nurse; pre-registration; performance; previous caring experience; longitudinal;

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