Defining bioterrorism preparedness for nurses: concept analysis


  • Terri Rebmann RN CIC

    1. PhD Candidate and Associate Director for Curricular Affairs, Institute for Biosecurity, St Louis University, School of Public Health, St Louis, Missouri, USA
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Terri Rebmann,
Institute for Biosecurity,
St Louis University,
School of Public Health,
3545 Lafayette Suite 300,
St Louis,
Missouri 63104,


Aim.  This paper reports a concept analysis to define the concept of nursing bioterrorism preparedness.

Background.  Nursing bioterrorism preparedness is necessary, yet no theoretical or operational definition exists. The concept is often misinterpreted as being synonymous with organizational preparedness or confused with the bioterrorism preparedness needs of other professions, such as medicine. There is no standardized definition of the concept that is specific to the profession of nursing.

Methods.  A concept analysis was conducted using a systematic literature review; the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Psych Info and Medline databases for years 1966–2005 were used. One hundred and eighteen references were identified, 41 of which were deemed relevant. Data from the 41 relevant articles were analysed and synthesized to develop a theoretical definition, defining attributes, antecedents, consequences and related concepts.

Findings.  Nursing bioterrorism preparedness is the continual process of nurses becoming better prepared to recognize and respond to a bioterrorism attack. Nurses, regardless of their level of education, areas of expertise or practice settings must participate in at least one educational session and one exercise each year to meet the minimum requirements of engaging in the bioterrorism preparedness process. The antecedents are acceptance and readiness to change. Defining attributes include gaining knowledge, planning, practising response behaviours and evaluating knowledge level and content of response plan. Consequences include recognition of an event and implementation of appropriate response actions.

Conclusion.  Nursing bioterrorism preparedness is essential. To assess nurses’ level of preparedness, a definition is needed of what bioterrorism preparedness means to the profession. The theoretical definition developed in this paper needs to be further refined and operationalized.