Contemporary public perceptions of nursing: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the international research evidence

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Girvin, J., Jackson, D. and Hutchinson, M. () 'Contemporary public perceptions of nursing: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the international research evidence', Journal of Nursing Management, 24 (8) pp. 994-1006.

Aim To investigate the current public understanding and perceptions of nursing. Background In recent years, attention to large scale health-care failures has focused considerable concern upon nursing standards. To avoid short-term solutions, and the temptation to see individual failures as representative of the wider profession, it is important to understand contemporary public perceptions of nursing. Evaluation A systematic review and narrative synthesis of peer reviewed papers from January 2010 to September 2015. Key issues Four main themes were identified: (1) media portrayal of nursing as a troubled profession; (2) entertainment value in demeaning nursing; (3) role incongruity – nursing trusted but not respected; and (4) nursing roles remain poorly understood. Conclusions Although there is evidence of strong public trust, this does not generally appear to be born out of an understanding of nursing work and impact; rather it appears to stem from the respect held for the traditional, more sentimental stereotypes of selfless, hardworking young females. Implications for nursing management A long-term, strategic solution is required that focuses on public engagement and interaction with the profession in a context wider than personal health/ill-health, and that goes beyond the marketing campaigns seen in the past to address recruitment crises.

AuthorsJ Girvin
D Jackson
M Hutchinson
FacultySenior Management Team
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Keywordsmedia image, nursing, nursing workforce, public knowledge, public opinion, public perception