Ageism in nursing


  • Sarah H. Kagan PhD, RN,

    Lucy Walker Honorary Term Professor of Gerontological Nursing, Corresponding author
    1. School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
    • Correspondence

      Sarah H. Kagan

      Claire M. Fagin Hall

      Room 313

      418 Curie Boulevard


      PA 19104-4217



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  • G.J. Melendez-Torres MPhil, RN

    Departmental Lecturer in Evidence-based Social Intervention
    1. Centre for Evidence-based Intervention, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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Ageism in health care delivery and nursing poses a fundamental threat to health and society. In this commentary, implications of age discrimination are presented to generate an agenda for action in nursing management.


In nations like the United States and the United Kingdom, nursing is an ageing profession caring for an ageing society where age discrimination takes many forms and has broad impact.


This commentary critically synthesizes the literature on ageism and relevant data on ageing societies for nurse managers and other leaders.

Key issues

Investigations of ageism suggest that discrimination negatively affects health and results in poor health care experiences. Age discrimination is present in nursing, exacerbating workforce shortages and limiting the use of expertise within the profession.


Nursing faces a future for which understanding ageing societies and ageism is essential. An agenda for the future is proposed.

Implications for nursing management

Nurse managers possess the power to enact an agenda for combating ageism in health care and nursing.