Public Health Nursing Competency Instrument: Scale Reduction and Reliability of Factors




To reduce the number of items of the Public Health Nursing Competency Instrument (PHNCI) and to report the psychometric properties of the abbreviated instrument.

Design and Sample

The 193-item PHNCI was administered via an online survey tool. A national sample of 2,269 public health nurses was recruited from 25 states.


All items of the PHNCI scale were positively stated and participants were asked to rate their skill level via a 4-point Likert scale.


A principal component exploratory factor analysis with oblique rotation and examination of scree plot resulted in a final abbreviated scale which included 81 items and six factors: (1) Evaluation Competencies, (2) Individual/Family/Community Competencies, (3) Systems' Competencies, (4) Partnership/Collaboration Competencies, (5) Planning Competencies, and (6) Assessment Competencies. The six factors in the resulting PHNCI Abbreviated (PHNCIa) demonstrated acceptable internal consistency, ranging from 0.92 to 0.98.


The six factors of the PHNCIa integrate important concepts of both the nursing process and the intervention wheel. The instrument can be used by educators, administrators, managers, and staff members to assess strengths and challenge areas, guide discussions on performance and expectations, and enhance professional development efforts. Next steps for future research are presented.