A scoping review of rebel nurse leadership: Descriptions, competences and stimulating/hindering factors

Authors Eline de Kok, Annemarie Weggelaar-Jansen, Lisette Schoonhoven, Pieterbas Lalleman
Published in Journal of Clinical Nursing
Publication date 2021
Type Article


Aims To (1) give an overview of rebel nurse leadership by summarising descriptions of positive deviance, tempered radicals and healthcare rebels; (2) examine the competences of nurse rebel leadership; and (3) describe factors that stimulate or hinder the development of rebel nurse leadership. Background Research shows nurses have lower intention to leave their jobs when they can control their work practices, show leadership and provide the best care. However, organisational rules and regulations do not always fit the provision of good care, which challenges nurses to show leadership and deviate from the rules and regulations to benefit the patient. Three concepts describe this practice: positive deviance, healthcare rebels and tempered radicals. Design Scoping review using the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology and PRISMA-ScR checklist. Methods Papers describing positive deviance, healthcare rebels and tempered radicals in nursing were identified by searching Scopus, CINAHL, PubMed and PsycINFO. After data extraction, these three concepts were analysed to study the content of descriptions and definitions, competences and stimulating and hindering factors. Results Of 2705 identified papers, 25 were included. The concept descriptions yielded three aspects: (1) positive deviance approach, (2) unconventional and non-confirmative behaviour and (3) relevance of networks and relationships. The competences were the ability to: (1) collaborate in/outside the organisation, (2) gain and share expert (evidence-based) knowledge, (3) critically reflect on working habits/problems in daily care and dare to challenge the status quo and (4) generate ideas to improve care. The factors that stimulate or hinder the development of rebel nurse leadership are as follows: (1) dialogue and reflection, (2) networking conditions and (3) the managers’ role. Conclusions Based on our analysis, we summarise the descriptions given of rebel nurse leadership, the mentioned competences and provide an overview of the factors that stimulate or hinder rebel nurse leadership. Relevance to clinical practice The descriptions produced in this review of rebel nurse leadership and the stimulating or hindering factors listed should help nurses and managers encourage rebel leadership.

Language English
Published in Journal of Clinical Nursing
Year and volume 30 17-18
Key words behaviour, communication, competence, health care, leadership, nurses, quality improvement, review
Page range 2563-2583