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Searching for collaboration in international nursing partnerships: a literature review


  • This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • No conflict of interest has been declared by the authors.

Erin K. George, Partners in Health, 888 Commonwealth Avenue, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02215, USA; Tel: 617-939-4768; Fax: 203-785-6455; E-mail:


GEORGE E.K. & MEADOWS-OLIVER M. (2013) Searching for collaboration in international nursing partnerships: a literature review. International Nursing Review60, 31–36

Background:  Nurses from low-income countries (LICs) face extreme nursing shortages, faculty shortages and a lack of professional development opportunities. Nurses from high-income countries (HICs) can leverage their wealth of resources to collaborate with nursing colleagues in LICs to expand clinical, education and research capacity. In turn, nurses from HICs gain stronger competency in the care they provide, improved communication skills and an increased understanding of global health issues.

Aim:  The purpose of this literature review is to identify international nursing clinical, education and research partnerships among nurses from LICs and HICs and to analyse the degree of collaboration involved in each partnership using DeSantis' counterpart concept.

Methods:  We conducted a systematic review of international nursing partnerships in the scientific literature from January 2001 to July 2012. A total of nine articles met inclusion criteria for analysis.

Findings:  All of the articles discuss lessons learnt in building international nursing partnerships among nurses from HICs and LICs. However, the articles failed to meet the criteria set forth by DeSantis' counterpart concept to achieve fully collaborative nursing partnerships.

Conclusions:  International nursing partnerships require more foresight and planning to create partnerships in which the benefits derived by nurses from LICs equal those of their colleagues from HICs. By striving for such collaboration, international nursing partnerships can help build nursing clinical, education and research capacity in LICs.