The Relationships among Social Capital, Health Promotion, and Job Satisfaction at Hospitals in Taiwan

Article excerpt

Reflecting a trend in the health sector and highlighting professional requirements, medical institutions have increasingly come to value the concepts of social capital and health promotion, in a working environment that is high-risk, knowledge-intensive, extremely stressful, and competitive (Ommen et al., 2009; Pelikan, Krajic, & Dietscher, 2001). Social capital operates in interpersonal relationships, explaining individual prosocial behaviors in communities and encouraging cooperation and coordination to achieve collective community benefits. Numerous scholars have identified social capital as a relevant intangible asset of hospitals, as well as a critical contributing factor to the quality of the work environment for employees (Ommen et al., 2009).

In addition to treating diseases, the general view in the health sector is that healthcare services provided by hospitals should also contribute to improving health and life quality. Modern medical institutions must integrate the concepts, values, and standards of health promotion into the organizational structure and culture of hospitals to establish a supportive institution for enhancing the health of patients and their family members, employees, and the community at large.

Findings in numerous studies have indicated that, because of the high-risk, extremely stressful, and competitive environment of modern hospitals, doctors and nursing personnel tend to have a negative perception of the quality of their work life, for example, job satisfaction (Ommen et al., 2009). Applying the concepts of social capital and health promotion may provide both employers and employees with a practical solution to the workplace difficulties experienced by medical personnel.

Although applying the concepts of social capital and health promotion in hospitals is considered by many to be very relevant and essential, there have not been many studies conducted in which the relationships among social capital, health promotion, and job satisfaction in hospitals have been explored and analyzed. Therefore, in this study we reviewed relevant literature to help researchers and practitioners enhance their understanding of the theories and knowledge of these concepts. In addition, we proposed a research model to illustrate the relationships among the relevant concepts, and by means of which the fit between the empirical data and the proposed model might be examined. Finally, we have sought to provide hospital managers with suggestions and insight regarding the application of social capital and health promotion in hospital routines and practices.

Literature Review

Social Capital

Bourdieu (1985) described social capital as the aggregate of actual or potential resources, which are linked to possessing a durable network of relatively institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance or recognition. Coleman (1990) pointed out that social capital includes several aspects of social structure that facilitate certain actions of individuals within that structure. Putnam, Leonardi, and Nanetti (1993) wrote that social capital refers to the features of social structure, such as networks, norms and social trust, which facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefits.

Social capital may exert a contextual effect on the health of an individual through several mechanisms (Kawachi, Kennedy, & Glass, 1999). Lindstrom and Janzon (2007) examined social capital as a social and contextual factor. A society in which there are high levels of social capital usually results in a society with high levels of civic engagement, social participation, social trust, institutional trust, and interpersonal reciprocity. Furthermore, social capital can help organizations solve conflicts, expedite the learning process, and integrate tacit knowledge (Zigan, Macfarlane, & Desombre, 2009).

Social capital has usually been measured according to the level of social trust. …