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Using the Diffusion of Innovations theory to understand the uptake of genetics in nursing practice: identifying the characteristics of genetic nurse adopters

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Abstract

Aim

To identify the characteristics of nurses who are using genetics in practice and consider the implications of the findings for optimizing its wider uptake.

Background

Nurses are crucial in realizing the benefits from advances in genetic and genomic health care. Although many recognize genetics as an important component of disease, most feel unprepared to engage with it in practice. The Diffusion of Innovation theory provides a useful framework to describe different levels of engagement. Identifying the characteristics of nurses who have engaged with genetics (adopters) may provide insights of relevance to promoting wider adoption.

Design

A primarily quantitative approach over two phases, using online surveys conducted during 2011.

Method

In phase 1, consensus (>75%) was sought from experts in genetics and nursing on four potential Indicators of Genetic Adoption could identify nurses who have adopted genetics. In phase 2, oncology and primary care nurses were surveyed to identify the characteristics and demographic indicators of genetic nurse adopters.

Results

A consensus was achieved to include all Indicators of Genetic Adoption (phase 1). In phase 2, 27·3% of respondents (n = 24/88) were categorized as being adopters. Eighteen characteristics were determined to be statistically significant (Mann–Whitney) in defining an adopter and included being open to experience and being more knowledgeable of and confident in using genetics.

Conclusion

Nurses can be categorized in terms of their engagement with genetics through several distinguishing characteristics. Further research is needed to test the generalizability of the findings to a larger sample and other areas of nursing practice.

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