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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-8

Assessment of conflict management skills of nurse tutors in basic schools of nursing in Enugu State, Nigeria

1 Department of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing Education, School of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu State, Nigeria
2 Department of Nursing Sciences, University of Nigeria, Enugu State, Nigeria
3 Department of Radiography and Radiological Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria

Date of Submission29-Dec-2019
Date of Decision24-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance13-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication18-Oct-2022

Correspondence Address:
Hyacienth U Chiegwu
Department of Radiography and Radiological Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences and Technology, College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi Campus, Nnewi, Anambra State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cjhr.cjhr_126_19

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Introduction: Conflicts abound in basic schools of nursing with consequences such as strained relationships among staff, collapsed agreement, poor academic performances, and disruption of planned academic activities. Conflicts can, however, be beneficial when well managed. Aim: This study aims at assessing the conflict management skills of nurse tutors in Enugu State Basic Schools of Nursing. Research Design: A prospective survey research method was adopted. Materials and Methods: Fifty nurse tutors in three Basic Schools of Nursing in Enugu State were studied from June to December, 2015. Modified Thomas Kilman's generated questionnaire was used for data collection. It has 46 items in two sections – Section A, on demographic data, consisting mainly of close-ended questions with few open-ended questions and Section B, formatted on a 6-point Likert scale of 1–6, containing questions to determine conflict management skills of nurse tutors. Convenient sampling technique was used for data collection. Data Analysis: Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 20.0 was used to analyze data. t-test and analysis of variance test were used to test the set hypotheses. Results: The mean scores for the various parameters were as follows: stress management skill (4.74 ± 0.666), social skills (5.10 ± 0.54), avoidance skills (3.99 ± 0.101), collaborative skills (4.5 ± 0.50), and competing skill (4.10 ± 0.69). Gender and cadre had no statistically significant influence on the conflict management skills of nurse tutors (P = 0.33). Conclusion: Nurse tutors in Enugu State Basic Schools of Nursing possessed good conflict management skills.

Keywords: Basic schools of nursing, conflict, Enugu state, management skill, nurse tutors

How to cite this article:
Agbo SO, Nwaneri CA, Chiegwu HU. Assessment of conflict management skills of nurse tutors in basic schools of nursing in Enugu State, Nigeria. CHRISMED J Health Res 2022;9:1-8

How to cite this URL:
Agbo SO, Nwaneri CA, Chiegwu HU. Assessment of conflict management skills of nurse tutors in basic schools of nursing in Enugu State, Nigeria. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Nov 30];9:1-8. Available from: https://www.cjhr.org/text.asp?2022/9/1/1/358809

  Introduction Top

Opposing viewpoints among individuals as they interact as social beings can lead to disagreement, competitions, arguments, suspicions, pain, and eventually conflict.[1],[2] Hence, conflict is part and parcel of day-to-day life. Conflict is defined as people striving for their preferred outcome which if attained prevents others from achieving theirs, resulting in hostility and breakdown in human relation.[3] According to Johansen,[4],[5] conflict is a result of perceived threat to one's needs, interest, and/or concern. Conflict is a complex process affected by dispositional, contextual, and interpersonal factors.[6] Conflict could be found in all areas of life including family, workplace, and organizations/institutions. An obvious cause of conflict is disagreement over issues that lead to competition and struggle for scarce resources because of perceived threat to one's interests. Specific causes depend on the environment.

Workplace conflict can result from poor communication, lack of employee motivation and/or unequal treatment in terms of allocation of duties/responsibilities and authority, or in the distribution of benefits.[7] Seven types of conflicts ranging from person versus Fate/God to person versus technology were identified,[8] which can be classified into two broad categories, namely internal (within an individual) and external (between an individual and another person or group, between two groups), and could be interpersonal, structural, or strategic.[1]

In educational institutions, conflicts can exist among staff over the leadership of departments or units and unilateral decision-making by the heads of department. Conflicts can also exist between students and staff over the time and mode of delivering lectures and even among students over leadership of student union associations. It can at times be among academic and nonacademic staff over administrative issues. Whatever the cause, conflict is often very costly and the outcomes are generally unpleasant.[9] In educational institutions, the consequences of such conflicts may be direct and indirect and include employee grievances, diversion of management time and disruption of professional relationships, workplace aggression, and psychological aggression.[9] Some negative behaviors such as physical violence, harassment, bullying, emotional abuse, abusive supervision, and workplace incivility may result.[10],[11] Conflict can lead to breakdown of law and order, enmity, closure of institution, and school dropout.[12] In schools of nursing, conflict can also hamper productivity, lower morale, disrupt cooperation, and create suspicion and distrust among tutors.[12]. Conflict may, however, be an opportunity for learning more about the organization, its bottlenecks and inefficiencies, as well as its areas of expertise.[12.] Thus, conflicts can have constructive consequences such as collaboration, positive relationship, and problem-solving and elimination of monotony and boredom and moving people into action – if the parties adopt appropriate conflict management resolution strategies.[12]

Conflict management is the process of planning to avoid conflict where possible and organizing to resolve the conflict if it eventually occurs. It has to do with maximizing the benefits of conflict. To maximize the outcome of conflict, several approaches of conflict management (external and internal) should be considered. Conflict management is the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while increasing the positive aspects or the practice of recognizing and dealing with disputes in a rational, balanced, and effective way.[13] Conflict management is expressed in the principle that all conflicts may not necessarily be resolved, but managing conflict can decrease the bad effects. It deals with maximizing the benefits of conflict.[14] using several approaches (external and internal). External approaches include mediation, creative peace building, smoothing it over, enforcing a solution, and confronting the situation directly.[14] In Western cultural concepts such as in Canada and United State of America, conflict is managed by fostering communication among disputants, problem solving and drafting agreement that meet their underlying needs:- a win-win solution.[15] Some authors opined involving religious or community leaders to communicate difficult truth directly.[16] Most often, externally mediated resolution of conflict is temporary. New disputes may arise and the parties may go back to fighting.[16] Therefore, to make impact beyond a single conflict, procedures have to be developed which the parties may use for satisfactory conflict resolution at lower costs even in the absence of external mediators.[16] This involves changing the conflict resolution system to the overall set of procedures used and the factors affecting their use – to encourage people to develop skills that will enable them to manage instead of fight over their differences. The burden of solving the conflict still remains with the contenders.[16] Certain skills are necessary for conflict management so as to place the person managing the conflict at a vantage position to deal with the conflict in a more stable manner[17] whether interpersonal conflicts (between individuals) or intergroup conflicts (between groups).

Conflict management skills and strategies encompass styles and techniques used in managing conflict between individuals or between groups. Interpersonal negotiation skills are identified as a tool for resolving interpersonal conflicts.[17] Conflict can be managed in different ways, with some focusing on interpersonal relationships and others on structural changes.[18] To maximize the outcome of conflict management, however, internal approaches/skills should be used. Such internal skills include negotiation, diplomacy, withdrawing from an actual or potential dispute, compromising, competitive, and cooperation.[18] Another way of coping with conflict is through smoothing, emphasizing the areas of agreement and common goals and de-emphasizing disagreements. This is also the method of forcing/pushing one's own view on others – which may elicit overt or covert resistance.[18] A traditional way of coping with conflict is to compromise. People who use integrating/collaborating, obliging/accommodating, or avoiding style are more effective than those who use dominating/competing style.[19] Individuals who use integrative/collaborative conflict handling style experience lower level of work-related conflict and stress at job. People using avoiding or dominating/competing style face more conflict and work-related stress.[20] A “Dual Concern Model” of conflict resolution – the Concern for self (assertiveness) and Concern for others (empathy) – was developed,[21] which gives consideration to the two conflicting parties.

With these skills, individuals are more likely to arrive at satisfying and lasting mutual outcomes. Conflict thus becomes a positive force which can increase individuals' innovativeness and productivity[22] and offers interpersonal relationship satisfaction, creative problem-solving (environment), growth of the global workforce, and domestic workplace diversity.[23] This can lead to improved efficiency, creativity, and profitability.[24] If, however, mishandled, conflict can directly cause organizational inefficiency, reduced productivity, stymied innovation, and compromised profits.[24]

One of the greatest problems in schools in Nigeria is conflict.[25] Observations by the researcher in Enugu State Schools of Nursing indicated that during academic staff meetings, tutors were either absent or refuse to participate and when they participated, there were often serious disagreements, grievances, fighting, antagonism, struggle, or quarrels. Knowledge of the conflict management skills possessed by the nurse tutors will be of great help in reducing conflict. This study was to assess the conflict management skills possessed by the nurse tutors in Enugu State Basic Schools of Nursing and determine if the conflict management skills possessed by the nurse tutors are related to their sociodemographic characteristics.

Research question

  • What elements of stress management skills do nurse tutors possess?
  • What elements of social skills do nurse tutors possess?
  • What elements of avoidance skills do nurse tutors possess?
  • What elements of collaborative conflict management skills do nurse tutors possess?
  • What elements of competing conflict management skills do nurse tutors possess?
  • What association exists between nurse tutors' conflict management skills and their sociodemographic characteristics?


  • H0: There is no significant association between nurse tutors' conflict management skill and their gender
  • H1: There is a significant association between nurse tutors' conflict management skill and their gender
  • H0: There is no significant association between nurse tutors' conflict management skill and their cadre
  • H1: There is a significant association between nurse tutors' conflict management skill and their cadre.

  Materials and Methods Top

Research design

A descriptive survey research method was adopted for this study to assess the conflict management skill of nurse tutors in basic schools of nursing in Enugu State, Nigeria.

Study site

The study was carried out in three basic schools of nursing in Enugu State, Nigeria.

Target population/sample size

A sample of 50 nurse tutors (11 males and 39 females) who were available during the period of study, and gave their consent, were studied out of the total of 56 nurse tutors in the schools.

Data collection method/instrument

Using convenient sampling technique, data collection was made with a Modified Thomas Kilman's generated questionnaire with 46 items. The questionnaire has two sections. Section A, on demographic data, consisting mainly of close-ended questions with few open-ended questions, has 7 questions. Section B contained questions to determine conflict management skills of nurse tutors. Questions 8–16 were on stress management skills; 17–23, on social skills; 24–29, on avoidance skills; and 31–38, on collaborating skills; while questions 39–46 were on competing skills. Section B was formatted on a 6-point Likert scale of 1–6, where 6 represented definitely true, 5 true, 4 tends to be true, 3 tends not to be true, 2 not true, and 1 definitely not true. The respondents were expected to choose the option that best described their disposition about the matter. In the scale, 6 and 5 represent significant possession, 4 and 3 represent moderate possession, and 2 and 1 represent no possession of the skill.

Instrument validity and reliability

Face and content validity were ensured by all the authors scrutinizing and making input and by giving a draft copy of the questionnaire, purpose/objectives of the study, and hypotheses, to other seasoned researchers to assess critically for relevance of content, clarity of statements, and logical accuracy of the instrument. Their corrections/suggestions led to increasing the items from 43 to 46.

Pilot study

For reliability, the instrument was pretested and administered twice at 6 weeks' intervals to twenty nurse tutors of Anambra State School of Nursing Nkpor, Anambra State, Nigeria. The school has similar characteristic setup as the study areas. Internal consistency reliability estimate (using Cronbach's alpha) yielded 0.716, indicating reliability for use in the study.

Ethical consideration

Ethical approval was obtained from the Human Research and Ethics Committee of the institutions. Administrative permission was obtained from the authority of each of the schools where the study was carried out. All participants were duly informed of the objectives of the study and willingly gave their consent.

Data analysis

Data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 20.0 (SPSS version 20.0 (Chicago, IL, USA). Simple descriptive analysis was carried out to show the response frequency, percentages, mean, and standard deviation of various categories of data. The relationship between the use of the various skills and some demographic characteristics of the respondents was also assessed. Any of these skills that has a mean score of >4.5 is considered to have high usage, while that with a mean value of <4.5 but >2.5 is moderate usage, and the one with a mean value of <2.5 is considered to of low usage. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to make comparison among more than two groups. t-test statistics was used to compare the conflict management skills of the nurse tutors based on their sociodemographic characteristics. The results were presented in Tables. P ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

  Results Top

Majority of the respondents (n = 30; 60.0%) were aged 36–45 years: n = 39 (78.0%) were female, and n = 37 (74.0%) were married and living together. MSc was the highest educational qualification. Majority (n = 23; 46.0%) possessed BSc. degree; majority, n = 22 (44.0%), had 1–5 years' teaching experience and n = 16 (32.0%) had 6–10 years' teaching experience [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic characteristics of the respondents (n=50)

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From [Table 2], always knowing their limits in personal and professional life and stick to them, (mean score, 5.22 ± 0.95), focusing on the positive, (mean score, 5.28 ± 0.73), focusing on what can be controlled (mean score, 5.10 ± 0.74) were the major skills used for stress management, and the overall mean score is 4.74 ± 0.66 for stress management. [Table 3] shows that the overall mean score for social skill was 5.10 ± 0.54, while appreciating what others do (5.44 ± 0.61) and being honest (5.30 ± 0.11) were the major skills. [Table 4] reveals that trying not to involve in conflict has a mean of 4.98 ± 1.15, whereas the overall mean score for possessing avoidance skill was 3.99 ± 1.01. From [Table 5], on the use of collaborative skill, encouraging open sharing of concern and willingness to adjust priorities in conflict situations had mean score of 5.02 ± 0.77 and 5.02 ± 0.80 respectively while the overall mean score for use of collaborative skill is 4.75 ± 0.50. [Table 6] shows that for use of competing skill, the factor that scored the highest mean score was “I always express my desire” (4.46 ± 1.05), followed by “I always fight for what I want” (4.38 ± 1.24). The overall mean score for possessing competing skill was 4.10 ± 0.69. From [Table 7], it is shown that male possess higher social skills (mean, 5.04 ± 0.46), avoidance skills (mean, 4.34 ± 0.70), and competing skill (4.44 ± 0.62), whereas females possessed higher stress management skills (mean, 4.79 ± 0.67) and higher collaborative skills (mean, 4.75 ± 0.52). [Table 8] shows that even though the nurses in the chief nurse tutor, assistant director, and deputy director cadres have higher mean scores for each of the factors than the other personnel cadres, there was no statistically significant difference.
Table 2: Stress management skills of nurse tutors

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Table 3: Social skills of nurse tutors

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Table 4: Avoidance skill of nurse tutors

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Table 5: Collaborative skill of nurse tutors

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Table 6: Competing skills of nurse tutors

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Table 7: Relationship between conflict management skill and gender

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Table 8: ANOVA test for relationship between conflict management skills and staff cadre/rank

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  Discussion Top

This study showed that nurse tutors in Enugu State Basic School of Nursing possessed high stress management skills. Nursing work (both in schools and clinics) is highly demanding and stressful. Therefore, the tendency for nurses to develop stress management skills is high. This is in agreement with the findings of other researchers[4],[26],[27],[28] who reported that nurses possess stress management, avoidance, and compromising skills. The results also showed that females possessed higher stress management skills than males. This could be because they have more time to relax because part of their needs could be taken care of by their husbands or male friends.

Most of the respondents also possessed high social skills for managing conflict. This is in line with the work of Steadley et al.[29] and Paul,[30] who independently reported that social skills form the basis for social competence, and good communication skills allow the manager to accomplish interpersonal situation for conflict management. The results also showed that nurse tutors possessed avoidance skills for conflict management and that the female nurse tutors have higher avoidance skills than the male nurse tutors.This contrasted with the findings in the Sultanate of Oman which showed that avoidance was the least possessed among the five conflict management styles studied,[31] but is in agreement with findings by Daphne et al.[32] in a pediatric hospital in Greece which reported that avoidance was the most frequent mode. It also agrees with other studies which showed that most good managers make use of avoidance skill.[8],[33] Most of the respondents – especially the women in the study – use collaborative skills. This finding is, however, surprising because from observations, women are often the sources of conflicts. This simply means that they do not apply that skill, thus agreeing with the work which opined that collaborating skill is used when improving relationships[34] and the finding that collaborative skill is used only for pooling individual needs and goals toward a common goal.[5] There is, therefore, the need for a program to educate the nurse tutors on the need to apply possessed skills for conflict management. This study showed that many of the nurse tutors – especially those in the higher positions – use competing skill contrary to the findings that (good) managers make use of avoidance skills instead of competing.[19] Because the two studies were done in different settings, one may suspect that environment contributed to the difference.

The finding of “no gender difference in conflict management skills” by this study agreed with the findings by.[35],[36],[37] The implication is that whether male or female, the nurse tutor is expected to manage conflicts effectively. The nurses' status however influenced conflict management skills. Nurse tutors of higher ranks possess higher skills – possibly from experience. This agrees with the finding by Babajide.[38] On the whole, this study showed that the nurse tutors in Enugu State Basic Schools of Nursing have high conflict management skill as none of the average scores for each of the factors is <3.0. This agrees with the findings of the study done in Egypt[17] which said that nurses possessed high skills for conflict management and this positively affects the quality of patient care.

  Conclusion Top

This study assessed the conflict management skills of nurse tutors in Enugu State Basic Schools of Nursing. A cross-sectional prospective survey design was employed to study fifty nurse tutors. Data were collected using questionnaire with a reliability of 0.716. Descriptive and inferential statistics were employed. t-test and ANOVA test were used to test the relationship between the variables. The results showed that the studied nurse tutors possess high conflict management skills.

A good number of nurse tutors possess and utilize stress management skills, social skills, and avoidance skills in managing conflicts. Their overall means for these skills were 4.74 ± 0.66, 5.10 ± 0.54, and 3.99 ± 1.01, respectively. Collaborative skills and competing skills were also used with a mean of 4.5 ± 0.5 and 4.10 ± 0.69, respectively. Gender has no influence on the use of these management skills by nurse tutors, and there was no significance difference in conflict management skills among the cadres of nurse tutors in Enugu State Schools of Nursing.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8]


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