OBJECTIVE: To assess and compare levels of nurse-physician collaboration and satisfaction with the decision-making process as reported by critical care nurses, resident physicians (residents), and attending physicians (attendings) in making decisions to transfer individual patients out of the critical care unit, and to assess if satisfaction predicts nurse retention. DESIGN: Longitudinal descriptive correlational study using self-reporting instruments. SETTINGS: A university hospital's surgical ICU, a community teaching hospital's medical ICU, and a community hospital's mixed ICU. SUBJECTS: Eighty-one nurses, 23 residents, and 37 attendings from the surgical ICU; 44 nurses and 51 residents from the medical ICU; 25 nurses and 45 attendings from the community hospital's ICU, reporting on the transfers of 473, 465, and 494 patients, respectively. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Healthcare providers' reported levels of collaboration and satisfaction with the decision-making process, the correlations between collaboration and satisfaction, and nurse retention. RESULTS: Nurses and physicians within sites (except attendings from the surgical ICU) reported similarly moderate amounts of collaboration, but nurses reported less satisfaction with decision making than did physicians in all sites. Collaboration was related to satisfaction with decision making for all providers, but more strongly for nurses. The strength of the relationship for nurses was similar in all sites. Nurses' satisfaction with decision making did not predict their retention. CONCLUSIONS: Collaboration between nurses and physicians is a more important component of satisfaction with decision making for nurses than for physicians. Any interventions to change the amount of collaboration in practice must take account of this difference.