Abstract This exploratory study of family nursing practice in public health care was conducted in Finland and Utah. Staff nurses were interviewed in focus groups and asked to describe their practice of family nursing, the factors promoting and restraining practice, and the impact of the changes in health care delivery on practice. Thirty-six Finnish and 30 Utah nurses participated. Pressure to do more activities with fewer nurses and resources, changes in family problems, and skill level of the nurses were common themes. However, differences were evident. Finnish public health nurses used emotional support and information to help families empower themselves to use resources and to strengthen their family unit. Utah nurses focused first on individual level goals and then family cohesion and health. Nurseinitiated referrals and direct physical care were the primary intervention strategies of Utah nurses. Unlike the U.S. health care system, access for all in maternal and child health care and school health allowed Finnish nurses to develop long-term relationships with families, thus advancing family nursing practice. This study identifies several potential variables for further study particularly related to the organization of health care and nurse-family relationships.