Genetics education in the nursing profession: literature review

Sarah Burke, Maggie Kirk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim. This paper reports a literature review exploring genetics education for nursing professionals. The aim was to contribute to the debate about the future direction of such education. Background. Advances in genetics science and technology have profound implications for health care and the growing importance and relevance of genetics for everyday nursing practice is increasingly recognised. Method. A search was conducted in February 2005 using the CINAHL and Google Scholar databases and the keywords nurse, midwife, health visitor, education and genetics. Papers were included if they were published in English between 1994 and 2005 and included empirical data about genetics eduction in nursing. In addition, attempts were made to access the grey literature, with requests for information on research, for example, to members of the Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors and searches of relevant websites. Findings. Agreement on the relevance of genetics for nursing practice is extensive. Empirical evidence of the learning needs of practitioners, highlights widespread deficits in knowledge and skills, and low confidence levels. Provision of nursing education in genetics is patchy and insubstantial across a number of countries, further hampered by lack of strategic development. Significant progress has been made in the identification of learning outcomes for nurses. Research on the delivery of genetics education is limited, but the role of skills-based training, use of clinical scenarios, and importance of assessment have all been identified as factors that can promote learning. Conclusion. Whilst areas of good performance were revealed, many studies identified gaps in professional competence and/or education. New initiatives are underway to support genetics education and its integration into professional practice, but further research is needed on the most effective forms of educational delivery, and an internatal collaborative approach to this should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228 - 237
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2005


  • curriculum development
  • genetics
  • literature review
  • nurse education


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