• intuition;
  • instrument development;
  • nursing students

Background.  Intuition has been described as an important type of nursing knowledge and has gained acceptance as a valid way of knowing in clinical nursing. Use of intuition has become one way of explaining professional expertise. Measures of the use of intuition have been developed primarily for experienced nurses, but few measures of intuition use among nursing students exist.

Aim.  The aim of this paper is to describe the development and psychometric testing of an instrument to measure use of intuition by nursing students.

Methods.  Instrument development consisted of concept clarification, item development, and psychometric testing. Intuition was defined as a non-linear process of knowing perceived through physical awareness, emotional awareness, and/or through physical or spiritual connections. Initial measurement items were derived inductively from the literature and informal interviews with senior nursing students. Seven content experts established a content validity index of 0·86 for the initial 33-item measure. It was pretested with a sample of 20 senior nursing students prior to its nationwide validation with a random sample of 1000 senior bachelor of science and associate degree nursing students.

Results.  Postal mail data collection resulted in 349 responses (35% response rate). Principal component analysis with orthogonal varimax rotation resulted in seven factors accounting for 66·2% of the variance: physical sensations (28·4%); premonitions (9·7%); spiritual connections (7·7%); reading of cues (6.1%); sensing energy (5·7%); apprehension (4·3%); and reassuring feelings (4%). Eigenvalues ranged from 1 to 7·1 and factor loadings ranged from 0·534 to 0·858. The validation resulted in a revised 25-item measure that demonstrated an overall Cronbach's alpha of 0·89 and a range of 0·69–0·84 for each factor. The study is limited by the use of a self-report measure and the attrition in the randomized sample.

Conclusions.  The intuition measure for use with students showed evidence of construct validity and reliability. With further testing, the measure could serve as a stimulus to foster students’ intuitive abilities.