Health Visiting in Scotland and Norway: Commonalties and Differences


Address correspondence to Bodil Ellefsen, Institute of Nursing Science, University of Oslo, P.B. 1120, Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway, Phone: 047 22 85 05 67, Fax: 047 22 85 05 70, E-mail:


This investigation compared health visiting in Scotland and Norway by focusing on health visitors' influence on management matters, work tasks and work conditions. The data are based upon in-depth interviews with nine health visitors from Scotland and 12 health visitors from Norway. The results showed more similarities than differences between the Scottish and Norwegian health visitors. Both groups experienced autonomy at work. The hardships of work were the lack of visibility for their work and an inability to demonstrate in measurable ways the effect of their work. Issues related to lack of time and priority of the newborn and young children were also similar as well as the experience of insecurity and strain at work. The differences were mostly within the area of organizational structure and its influence on management matters. While the Norwegian HV participated in plans for the service, employment and budget proposals, the Scottish HV was involved in these matters to a lesser degree. All in all, the similarity of the themes and the comparable units suggest the core of health visiting extends beyond the limits of cultural and national boundaries.