Understanding genetics in nursing care - a qualitative interview study

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Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate the use of genetics/genomics (G/G) knowledge and competencies in a
Danish nursing context.
Methods: Using a qualitative approach, thirteen Danish nurses representing different parts of the Danish health care system were
interviewed about their experiences with G/G in daily practice. One focus group interview was conducted face to face, and nine
individual semi-structured interviews were conducted partly face to face, partly online due to Covid-19 restrictions. Data were
analyzed through systematic text condensation using the NVIVO13 tool (QSR International).
Results: We identified five themes: 1) The nature of genetics; 2) Knowledge about genetics; 3) The roles of the nurse; 4) Nurses’
engagement with patients and relatives; 5) Patient pathways. Ethics was a recurrent theme in all five themes.
Conclusions: The Danish nurses interviewed generally hold a narrow understanding of genetics i.e. defining it as heredity. They
are involved in G/G aspects of care, although the extent and nature of this involvement varies considerably between different
care settings. Hence, it seems unlikely that all nurses will require the same G/G knowledge and competencies. Nevertheless, the
nurses share the belief that they should possess some basic knowledge about G/G to perform adequate nursing care. Their current
knowledge about G/G is typically informed by practice and to a very small degree by their formal education. They agree that G/G
literacy will be a general requirement in future nursing. Some of the nurses consider personalized medicine to be the golden
road to better patient treatment and care. Some request more knowledge about G/G topics and a vocabulary to communicate
adequately with doctors, patients and relatives on these issues. The importance of ethics is emphasized throughout the interviews.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Nursing Education and Practice
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • nursing


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