A systematic review of nurses’ knowledge of genetics

Lea Godino, Heather Skirton


Background: Given the current emphasis on genetics as a relatively new topic in the field of mainstream healthcare, it is interesting to note that authors suggested that genetics should be included in nursing curricula almost fifty years ago. Genetics has been important to the role of nurses in specific specialities for some years. However, some studies reported that the current training with respect to genetics for nurses did not enable them to acquire the necessary skills for their work. The aims and objectives of this review were to examine the available evidence on genetics knowledge of nurses.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review. A search of British Nursing Index, CINAHL, Embase and Medline databases was undertaken for papers published in English between January 2001- September 2011. Six studies satisfied the inclusion criteria.

Resukts: In three of the six studies included, the authors analysed the nurses’ perceived knowledge in genetics while in only two studies the authors measured actual knowledge. However, both perceived and actual knowledge of genetics was poor.  The amount of genetics education delivered to nurses in these studies was low overall.

Conclusions: However, while genetic content is lacking on educational programs the findings confirm that nurses are open to genetics education and that this should be in a form that enables them to apply genetic principles to their everyday healthcare experience. In particular, integration between science and practice is required to enable nurses to fully utilise genetics for the benefit of patients. It is clear that further educational initiatives are required to equip nurses to practice safely and effectively in the post-genomic era.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v2n3p173

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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