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Keywords:

  • Nurse empowerment;
  • nursing practice;
  • professional issues;
  • concept analysis

Abstract

Purpose: (a) To describe how nursing's construction of the concept of empowerment has selectively shaped the manner in which this concept has been applied to nursing professional practice and (b) to explicate clearly the breadth of the concept by highlighting the complex interactions that shape nurse empowerment.

Design and Methods: This integrative literature review analyzes academic literature published between 1960 and 2010 in the fields of nursing, management, and women's studies utilizing an evolutionary concept analysis method to explore the concept of nurse empowerment.

Findings: While the literature suggests that empowerment is an emergent product of interactions among individual, organizational, and sociocultural factors, nursing has adopted a construction of empowerment that focuses primarily on organizational antecedents. This construction has enabled nursing to operationalize the concept in order to address a number of pressing challenges. Yet, this construction only limitedly addresses the individual and sociocultural factors that impact nurses’ empowerment.

Conclusions: In order to promote professional practice through the mobilization of power, scholarship must further investigate the complex interactions producing empowerment.

Clinical Relevance: For nurses to practice as professionals, they must be empowered to take action and respond to challenges using professional skill and knowledge. Unless nurses feel empowered to act, they will rely too heavily on rigid bureaucratic structures rather than their own professional power to guide practice.