University of Tasmania
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Developing the Occupational Communion Scale: Belonging-based social connections are vital for work engagement, self-efficacy, and positive affect in aged care workforces

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Background and objectives: A multifaceted construct called Occupational Communion (OC), defined as a sense of belonging based on social interaction at work, has been proposed to understand why care workers were positively engaged in their jobs over time, even though they were very demanding. Rich qualitative data on the multiple aspects of OC in care work exist, but a valid measure does not.

Research design and methods:We applied a mixed-method systematic scale development process to measure OC. Aged and dementia care workers in Australia (76%) and other countries participated in a focus group and online surveys (N=2,451). We also used interview data from our prior study. The study involved three components; 1) scale development and design; 2) pilot test validation with exploratory factor analysis; and 3) confirmatory validation via confirmatory factor analysis. The third component assessed convergent and discriminant validity using measures of communion, self-efficacy, work engagement, job and life satisfaction, intention to leave, positive and negative affect, and mood.

Results: We developed a 28 item Occupational Communion Scale (OCS) with good internal consistency (Composite Reliability = .75 to .91) across six factors: 1) 'natural' carer, 2) psychological need to care, 3) connection with clients, 4) connection with co-workers, 5) desire for more connection, and 6) blurred boundaries. All validity measures correlated with OC and work engagement, self-efficacy, and positive affect showed strongest associations.

Discussion/implications: The OCS can be used to design and evaluate interventions addressing aged care workforce engagement, social connections, and well-being, and care outcomes.


National Health & Medical Research Council


Publication title

The Gerontologist




School of Psychological Sciences


Gerontological Society Amer

Place of publication

1275 K Street Nw Suite 350, Washington, USA, Dc, 20005-4006

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)License, (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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