• emergency department;
  • health promotion;
  • Jordan;
  • nurses;
  • semi-structured interviews

Aims and objectives

To explore emergency department nurses’ roles in health promotion and contributing factors involved.


In many healthcare systems, emergency departments are increasingly urged to play a crucial role in health promotion. Although much has been written about health promotion and nurses in acute care settings, less has focused on emergency departments.


A qualitative design was used.


In-depth semi-structured interviews were used with a convenient sample of 15 nurses in a Jordanian emergency department. Data were analysed using nvivo 9 (QSR International, Doncaster, Victoria, Australia).


The analysis identified two themes. The first focused on nurses’ roles in health promotion, comprising two categories: having no roles and ‘let other people do it’. The second theme focused on the context and constraints of health promotion comprising fear of violence, the nature of healthcare service and patients’ beliefs. The majority of nurses in emergency departments do not associate health promotion with their practice, hold some negative attitudes and devote more time to clinical tasks than health promotion, which is seen as a second priority.


The ideology of medicalised tasks has penetrated deeply into the core principles of health promotion, and thus, nurses’ roles and potential in this area are questioned.

Relevance to clinical practice

Decision-makers and nurses within the hospital are urged to address the constraints identified in this study and debate them further. Failure to do so may lead to emergency nursing not being optimally achieved, with the absence of sustained and concerted health promotion work matching patients’ cultural needs and sensitivities.