• community health nursing;
  • primary health care;
  • public health nursing;
  • public health nursing competencies

ABSTRACT Objective: This investigation aimed to identify and analyze the general and specific competencies of nurses in the primary health care practice of Brazil.

Design: The Delphi Technique was used as the method of study.

Sample: 2 groups of participants were selected: One contained primary health care nurses (n=52) and the other specialists (n=57), including public health nurses and public or community health faculty.

Measurements: 3 questionnaires were developed for the study. The first asked participants to indicate general and specific competencies, which were compiled into a list for each group. A Likert scale of 1–5 was added to these 2 lists in the second and third questionnaires. A consensus criterion of 75% for score 4 or 5 was adopted.

Results: In the nurses' group, 17 general and 8 specific competencies reached the consensus criterion; 19 general and 9 specific competencies reached the criterion in the specialists' group. These competencies were classified into 10 domains: professional values, communication, teamwork, management, community-oriented, health promotion, problem solving, health care, and education and basic public health sciences.

Conclusions: These competencies reflect Brazilian health policy and constitute a reference for health professional practice and education.