Overlapping of duties and technical autonomy among nurses of the Family Health Strategy

Rev Saude Publica. 2010 Jun;44(3):520-7. doi: 10.1590/s0034-89102010005000011. Epub 2010 May 14.


Objective: To understand how Estratégia Saúde da Família (Family Health Strategy) nurses experience the overlapping of duties and building of technical autonomy.

Methodological procedures: This was a qualitative study performed with 22 nurses, in the city of Recife, Northeastern Brazil, between August 2005 and November 2006. Based on management evaluation (geographic access; conflicts in the team, between team and district and between team and community; and public violence in the area), four teams were selected in each of the six health districts. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. The main themes in the interview guide were about work expectations and relevance, its organization and process, and feelings towards these practices. The results were interpreted under the perspective of burnout.

Analysis of results: The nurses' opinion on the excessive number of families, insufficient organizational support and pressures from user demands that had not been met was recurrent. Overlapping of health care and management caused work overload, creating anxiety, impotence, frustration and the feeling of being treated unfairly when tasks were divided among team members. The clinical dimension of practice led to a feeling of insecurity of a technical and ethical nature, in addition to the satisfaction for the power and prestige achieved by the professional category. Specialized medical training represented an obstacle to autonomy and responsibility becoming interdependent. Stress, dissatisfaction, becoming physically and mentally ill, recognition of the relevance of work and importance of one's performance, and low work involvement were reported.

Conclusions: In view of the lack of expectation of changes in the short term, the overlapping of low professional satisfaction and work overload causes negative attitudes, indicating the importance of health promotion to increase the possibility of influencing and changing work conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology*
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Family Nursing / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Nursing Staff / organization & administration*
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Nursing, Supervisory / organization & administration*
  • Professional Autonomy*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload*