Perceptions of Public Health Nursing Practice by Municipal Health Officials in Norway


Anne Clancy, Harstad University College, Havnegata 5, 9480 Harstad, Norway. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Objectives: The objective of this study was to describe and analyze municipal decision-maker's views on public health nursing and to reflect upon and discuss the relevance of those views to the future of public health nursing in Norway.

Design: This explorative qualitative study using face-to-face interviews is part of a larger project, comprising 5 studies, that explores perceptions of public health nursing.

Sample: A purposeful sample of 11 municipal decision-makers was selected for interview during 2006–2007 to reflect variation in community size and perspective.

Results: Thematic content analysis of the transcribed interviews revealed 4 content categories: contribution, collaboration, challenges, and visibility. The decision-makers expressed satisfaction with the public health nursing services, showed concern about lack of visibility and clear boundaries, and some expressed irritation over lacking collaboration. The interviewees elaborated on their past experiences as the public health nurses coworkers, leaders, collaborators, and service users.

Conclusions: The respondents recognized public health nursing's contribution to public health but they lack sufficient knowledge of its content and tend to take services at local health clinics for granted. Dialogue between nurses and decision-makers is necessary in order to ensure updated evaluation and continued development of public health nursing services.