• Accident and Emergency;
  • attitudes;
  • health promotion;
  • nursing;
  • Q methodology

Aim.  This paper presents a study exploring Accident and Emergency nurses’ attitudes towards health promotion.

Background.  Much has been written about nurses and health promotion. Research has focused mainly on community nurses, less on nurses working in acute hospital settings, and apparently not at all on those working in Accident and Emergency units.

Methods.  Q methodology, a technique for extracting subjective opinions, was used. Eleven nurses working in Accident and Emergency departments completed 33-item Q-sorts and wrote personal definitions of health promotion. Based on published literature in the field, the Q sample was structured with reference to nurses’ attitudes as they related to health promotion. Factor analysis was performed on the data, and the resulting factors were interpreted. The data were collected in 2003.

Results.  Three alternative constructions emerged from the data, representing three alternate views about health promotion. The most widely held opinion (representing nine of the 11 nurses) was a positive view of health promotion and the nurses’ role in health promotion in Accident and Emergency environments.

Conclusions.  It is not possible to generalize the findings of this study due to the small number of participants. However, their knowledge of, and commitment to, health promotion is encouraging. Recommendations for practice are that there is continued and increased post-registration education in health promotion for nurses and continuing exploration of the hospital nurses’ health promotion role. Further research is needed to explore nurses’ perceptions of barriers to effective health promotion and nurses’ health promotion activities in Accident and Emergency environments.