Occupational health nurses' perceptions of their current and future roles

J Adv Nurs. 2007 Jun;58(6):585-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04263.x. Epub 2007 May 1.


Aim: This paper is a report of an investigation of Australian occupational health nurses' perceptions of their current and future roles.

Background: Occupational health nurses are expected to engage in a variety of traditional curative activities as well as emergent role activities focusing on injury prevention, health promotion, wellness, management and research. However, little is known about the importance they place on traditional and emergent activities in both current and future practice.

Method: The 416 members of the Australian College of Occupational Health Nurses were asked in 2002-03 to complete a questionnaire with items based on the College's areas of practice. The items related to perceived importance and time dedicated to traditional and contemporary role activities. One hundred completed questionnaires were returned, but only 93 were suitable for analysis (response rate 22%).

Findings: Currently, Australian occupational health nurses engage in traditional curative and emergent wellness, management and research activities, but traditional activities dominate their work. Participants perceived that in the future activities related to wellness, management and research will be more important to their practice and that they will need to devote more time to them.

Conclusion: Education programmes will need to address specifically the knowledge and skills required for wellness-based models of practice in occupational health nursing, as well as research and negotiating skills for working with others in the workplace.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role / psychology*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Occupational Health Nursing / organization & administration
  • Occupational Health Nursing / trends*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Workload